Chicken-Rice Soup for a Cold (or Anytime)

Sierra came down with a rather wicked cold last week: fever, cough, sniffles, all of it. There’s not much sadder than a sick baby toddler? 16-month-old – you can cuddle her, wipe her nose, give her all the water she cares to drink, and tell her she’ll feel better soon but does she truly understand? This week she finally seems on the mend but we’ve been laying low and eating lots of soup (and cake for the grown-ups because why not?).

I made one of my classic many-vegetabled soups (garlic, onion, carrots, sweet potato, potato, parsnip, turnip) and pureed the pot into velvety smoothness on Saturday afternoon while she had a long nap. The sun streamed in as I enjoyed my solitary lunch and hit the clementines (or tangelos?) placed just so on the counter. There was a blessed respite from the ongoing construction project next door and I took a moment to be thankful for the quiet. The little things, yes? Two months in with no end in reasonable sight I’ve started appreciating Sundays ever more, as it’s the one day a week they don’t work. Morocco, you never fail to challenge.


Anyway S loved the soup too and I’ve been feeding it to her almost every day for lunch or dinner. When I’m not giving her a bowl of that I’ve been giving her a bowl of chicken-rice soup which she seems to enjoy equally well (side note: she’s not a vegetarian but she does get a lot of vegetables; it can’t be helped!). Inspired by my friend Lupe and our chilly trip to Sacramento earlier this month it’s slipped into my soup rotation seamlessly. Chock full of silky basmati brown rice, shredded bits of roast chicken, and chopped spinach, it’s the perfect mid-winter meal for when you want something comforting, lasting, and dare I even say ‘healthy’ … for both little and big appetites.

My cooking has never been especially ambitious; I had a brief fling with seemingly constant dinner parties and four-coursers and perusing cookbooks by the hour back in my ‘carefree’ DC days, and I am so glad I had that time. I loved it and indulged myself and then my work schedule changed and I gravitated back to the simple and satisfying. This way of cooking has served me particularly well now that I don’t have the time I once did. Similar to when I worked full time I now make a lot of nourishing soups, whole grain pasta dishes, quinoa with roasted vegetables and simple dressings, the occasional salad. For me as the main cook of the household this is the only way to go. We can debate about whether or not cooking should be ‘fun’ or always turns into ‘a chore’ but the truth is we all need to eat and keeping it fairly easy and using mostly healthy ingredients (and, if I can add, a lot of vegetables) helps get it done.

Thus far Sierra is a pretty good eater (and I’ve just jinxed it). She will most always try things but of course doesn’t always like them, and while some nights she can eat two scrambled eggs, some cubes of roasted sweet potato, pear sauce, and sauteed spinach on others she has just a few bites of soup and refuses to eat any more. This is OK. I figure it all balances out calorie-wise by the end of the week. It still gives me a bit of a thrill to see her really enjoying her spaghetti with garlicky tomato sauce or oatmeal or yogurt-with-granola or banana muffin. She was slow to come to solid food and as any first timer I fretted a little wondering if she’d ever like ‘real’ food. Early days yet of course but I am crossing fingers it sticks.

Chicken-rice soup is a classic example of something lovely out of the simplest ingredients. Onion and garlic are sauteed in olive oil, then chopped carrots and celery are tossed in, then broth and chicken and rice and spinach if you’re so inclined and there’s a lot of lunches set for days ahead. I add some dried herbs but you don’t have to; the straightforward, homey flavors of rice, vegetables, and chicken are all you really need. I’ve been keeping a pot stashed in the fridge (plus quinoa and vegetable soup for me) and we’ve made not a few meals out of soup and biscuits and then go to bed early. Did I mention the simple things? We’re all about those around here.

Join the Conversation

  1. Beautiful post with lovely imagery and great recipe!

  2. Sierra looks as though she’s loving the soup! Although I’m strictly vegetarian, I do enjoy seeing recipes that aren’t overly meaty. Besides, you have to nourish your baby. My son loved chicken, so chicken it was. She looks like a good little eater (which is quite a relief and should make your life easier). Anxious to try some recipes from your cookbook. Be well.

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