After a week on the East Coast working and visiting our kids I came home with happy memories and a little intestinal bug. Not big enough to warrant a trip to the doctor–we didn’t bowl in Ebola-exposed lanes while in NYC–but some queasiness lingered for nearly a week. I looked up my symptoms and learned that I could be suffering from a psychotic illness (always possible) or pregnancy, which at my age would be downright Biblical. Figuring there was nothing to do but wait it out, I rallied to make my favorite under-the-weather soup.
I can’t remember where I first came across the recipe–the yellowed clipping looks like it might have been in the New York Times Sunday magazine–but it’s called “Parsi Chicken Soup with Rice” and is adapted from The Varied Kitchens of India by Copeland Marks (M. Evans, 1986). I can tell you that it’s delicious and simple to make and the spices–ginger, garlic, red chile flakes and cumin–add just enough kick to make me feel alive when I’m otherwise dead to the world. As we’re entering flu season, I thought you might want to add this to your medicinal arsenal.
Parsi Chicken Soup with Rice (serves 6)
1 chicken, 3 pounds, cut into serving pieces, loose skin and fat removed*
6 cups water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
1 cup onion cut into chunks
1/2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/2 cup fresh tomato puree, or canned
Cooked basmati rice
1. Cook the chicken in the water with salt over moderate heat for 20 minutes.
2. In a food processor, puree the onion, ginger and garlic. Heat oil in a skillet and over moderate heat fry the onion paste for 3 minutes. Add the cumin and chile flakes. Stirfry the mixture for 3 minutes more. Add the spice mixture to the chicken pot with the tomato puree and simmer over moderatley low heat for 20 minutes more. Adjust the salt if necessary.
3. Serve hot with plain basmati rice added to each bowl.
*I’ve also used boneless chicken breasts and prepared chicken broth to speed up the cooking time and further reduce the minimal prep mess. All the better to quickly resume my sickbed Scandal-watching.