Friday, October 1, 2010

Feasting Friday- Cure for the Common Cold

Your Polymath has a cold.

Thanks to for the pic
Just your average everyday run-of-the-mill early Fall cold, probably brought on by weird weather changes.  And not a horrible debilitating cold, just a general fatigue-y, sore throat, a little achy kind of cold.  Not overly bronchial, nor sinus-y.  Bad enough to keep me from fun stuff like girl's lunches, birthday dinners out, and writing  But not so bad as to prevent me from catching up on my TiVo, running out to Target/Costco at odd hours to beat the crowds, and reading some fun things like Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain and finally starting The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo -- which is not, to be honest, grabbing my attention in the same feverish way as it seems to have gripped the rest of the world.  (Note to publishers....if it isn't 100% essential to the essence and purity of the story to retain orginal names from foreign translations, take the time to change them to something that doesn't take me right out of the story everytime I read them.  Really?  Blomkvist?  Eleventy-million times?)

As it is cold season, I thought I would share my personal list of go-to try to beat the cold tips and tricks.

1.  Chamomile tea with lemon and honey.  Lots of it.  The chamomile is good for the slight queasyness that can accompany colds, has some natural anti-inflammatory properties, and can help you rest.  The honey and lemon both soothe sore throats, and the honey helps to keep your blood sugar up since you are likely to have minimal appetite.  Plus they are yummy.  And the tea helps keep you hydrated.

thanks to for pic

2.  Throat lozenges.  I like Hall's Defense with Vitamin C for mild sore throats, the regular Hall's for more powerful relief.

3.  Crystallized Candied Ginger.  These little nuggets covered in coarse sugar are sweet enough to cut through the lack of palate, spicy enough to help clear the nose a bit, and ginger is soothing to the tummy.  I get mine in the bulk section of Whole Foods or at the local Asian food market.

4.  Hot baths and showers.  As hot as you can take them.  The steam is very comforting, and lets be honest, you are probably napping a lot and if you aren't diligent, you can start to get a little ripe.  If you have those tub soothers available, they don't hurt, ditto essential oils like rosemary and eucalyptus

5.  Chicken soup.  Doctors have actually done studies on the famous Jewish Penicillin, and found that it really does have healing properties.  I'm not a doctor, I just know that it is one of the few things I can actually eat happily. 

This is a recipe of Charming Suitor's.  He adapted it from a Charlie Trotter recipe.  It is the chickeniest of chicken soups, with beans for extra protein, and especially delicious if you have a loaf of crusty bread to dunk in it.

I made mine in the gorgeous new slow cooker that  Cuisinart sent me....meaning I could just bung everything in the cooker in the morning, and by dinner, we had the best soup ever.  If you do not have a slow cooker, you can just do it in the oven.

Charming Suitor Chicken Soup with Flageolets

8 c chicken broth (homemade is great, otherwise use one of the lower sodium natural style canned stocks)

1 chicken (about 3 lbs)
1/2 pkg fresh thyme tied with twine or put in a sachet
1/2 pkg fresh sage tied with twine or put in a sachet
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
1 onion, diced
1 leek, cleaned and diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1 T olive oil
1 c Flageolet or other white beans, soaked overnight or 2 cans cannelini beans drained and rinsed

S&P to taste

(If you don't have a slow cooker, preheat oven to 350.)

Sweat all veggies in oil over low heat in large Dutch oven covered for about 10 to fifteen minutes. If you have a slow cooker, transfer to the bowl, if not keep in Dutch oven.  Nestle sachets in veggies and place whole chicken on top. Add chicken stock and cover.  Either set slow cooker to high and let cook 6-8 hours, or place the Dutch oven in the oven 2 ½- 3 hours. Remove chicken from stock and remove skin and bones, returning meat to pan. Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve.

To be honest, yesterday I did not have an onion, so I doubled up on the leeks, and left out the garlic whcih can sometimes upset my tummy.  I do recommend stocking up on dried flageolets, their pale jade color is lovely and they get all creamy in the soup.  If you don't have time to soak them overnight, cover them with water and bring to a boil for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse and proceed with the rest of the recipe.  I like mine with a last minute squirt of fresh lemon, but Charming Suitor likes it without.  It is a bowl of ultimate cold-kicking delicious.  And freezes quite well.

Yours in Good (if sniffly) Taste,
The Polymath


  1. You should have added some bourbon to that tea...just sayin'...



  2. Ugh, lady I am just getting over a WEEK of strep throat. Apparently the fact that my wedding is in 29 days stressed me out to sicking-point.

    Your chicken soup recipe sounds like the ultimate comfort. Fingers crossed we get a slow cooker for a wedding gift! :)

    As for the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - I started reading it too, didn't get the hype, so I quit (gasp!) and watched the movie instead. Loved it SO much that I read the second and third books within 10 days... Seriously. And the Swedish names tripped me up a lot too - that doesn't get better in the other books. I wish all authors understood that some people read their books out loud in their head (sounds like schizophrenia, but isn't) and don't like hard to pronounce names.

    Love Kathy Reichs - hate Temperance Brennan. I mean, c'mon! Tempe? Forget it.

    Get well soon, Poly!

  3. Be Patient with the Dragon Tatoo, it's very slow and tedious to start, but has an awesome finish. The second book starts quicker and I've just finished the third and I loved it. Feel better!!

  4. I am fighting the same cold. For mine, and my husbands, a straight shot of vodka completely eliminated the sore throat part! Ours was 100 proof, but I'm not sure if it matters. I'm usually not a drinker, but the result was worth it. Also, gargle with 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and mouthwash. It sounds awful but makes the symptoms less severe and usually shorter. Hope you feel better soon! Can't wait to make the soup.

  5. Hi sorry to hear about your cold! The NYTimes had an article this week about the miracle of gargling with salt water.... might be worth a try. And listen to the others, GWTDT has a slow start, but gets much better--and book 2 and 3 get better and better! I'm heartbroken there won't be more..
    Feel better!

  6. I absolutely love when you post recipes! Several of them have become household staples for me and my husband.
    As for the book? I promise if you can get through the torturous back-story drawn out in the first 100 pages, the pay off is worth it!!

  7. I'm in the same boat as everyone else with Dragon Tattoo. It started SOOOOO slow. I almost gave up. Who really needs to understand Swedish politics or finances? Blech. I gets so much better thouhg. It will also be a compulsion to read the next one. I was sad that the author died with only three of his series written. There could be more. I talk about it so much more in my book blog.

  8. I almost gave up on GWTDT also but then I figured out something that worked for me. I just changed their names in my head. He became Michael Bloomkist. I changed almost everyone's names to something easier to pronounce. It actually worked and once I got over that hurdle, it was all smooth sailing. The book is worth it, I promise.

  9. *prints recipe*

    pop some vitamin E (it helps, i swear!)

    Hope that you're better by thursday. I just talked the hubs into coming to evanston with me for your signing (i had a horrid cold last month when you had an even at webster place)and plan to stock up on spices at the spice house! SO excited!

  10. I loved all the Girl books but holy christ, those NAMES!! And have we noticed that some of them look so alike?? I love the preserving of the Swedishness but sheesh, I would've loved a character or two named something easy like Bob. Yes, even TWO CHARACTERS. I said it.

    Oh--one more thing about the Girl books: they would be very easy to turn into some kind of weird book club drinking game: every time someone drank coffee and ate a sandwich, you'd have to do a shot.

    But not of coffee.

    Feel better!