Lying in bed this morning (OK, this afternoon), all I wanted was my mom and dad's tinola -- a Filipino chicken soup that is loaded with chicken and ginger and green vegetables and tastes like home. But who has the time or energy to thaw out chicken and go to the store when all you want is soup, right now, on the couch, preferably with a cat on your lap and your phone and Kindle an arm's reach away so that there is absolutely no reason for you to get up again, ever.
Here is what I had in my fridge: carrots, onions, half of a small head of cabbage. There was a good chunk of ginger root in my freezer, which saved me today, no joke, and from now on there shall always be ginger root in my freezer, I promise. I chopped everything up, with a few cloves of garlic, and threw it into a pot with chicken broth. In an attempt to make the soup taste more like something Mom and Dad would make, I added a small splash of fish sauce, which I highly recommend if you have any on hand (my friend Leslie texted me the other day to let me know that according to Bon Appetit, 2014 will be inspired by Filipino foods and flavors, so now would be the time to grab a bottle at your local Asian grocery. Get the kind with an image of three crabs on the label.). The fish sauce gives the broth a deeper flavor and the ginger, a feeling of healing power that you just can't overlook.
I had two bowls of soup today, with plans for more. Now I'm comfortably planted on the couch. The Christmas tree is lit, and a fire crackling. I believe it's still snowing outside, but I can't be sure, and I'm not getting up anytime soon to find out. And even though I started off this new year with a fever, and was inconveniently in the bathroom when midnight struck (I said something like, "I don't want to start 2014 peeing in my pants!" after I poured the last glass of champagne and hustled to the toilet with three minutes left on the clock), I know this year is going to be a good one. I am hopeful and excited and grateful. Here's to another one, friends.
Cabbage and Ginger Soup
Like most of the foods I share here, this is more of a guide than a recipe. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Broccoli, bok choy, any kinds of greens will work. I find the ginger here is really key -- especially if you're sick. If you don't have fish sauce or don't want to use it, just add salt, or maybe soy sauce, or nothing at all.
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 heaping tablespoon ginger, minced
2-3 small carrots, chopped
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 cups of cabbage, shredded
6 cups of chicken broth
In your favorite soup pot, boil a small amount of the chicken broth, about an inch. Add the garlic, onion, ginger and carrots, cover and let simmer until the vegetables have softened. Add the rest of the chicken broth and the fish sauce, bring to a boil. Add the cabbage and let simmer about 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is softened to your liking. Makes enough for one sick person to eat about 4-6 bowlfuls.