So, four days into my Arizona sojourn, I’ve come down with a massive chest cold. It might be the flu. It’s not hot here, but it’s not really cold enough to have built a fire during the day or to be wearing a big old fleece jacket I found lying around the house. I’m freezing. And I woke up with a chest that felt like when I used to get croup as a kid — I had to rocket off and stand in a hot shower for ten minutes before I could breathe.
And so, about noon, after not eating anything all day, I decided I need soup. Well, soup, ibuprophen and cough medicine. Food just sounds like ick to me, but soup, or strong tea with lots of lemon and honey — those sound okay. I had to drive out of town to the Safeway, because there’s nothing here but art galleries and pottery shops, and I thought I’d pick up a quart of grocery store soup. But when I got there, they all looked gross. Gummy. Thick. Old. Made from who knows what?
It usually wouldn’t occur to me to buy soup at the grocery store. I have issues with soup made in strange commercial settings. But I was feeling very woofy, and I had hoped that perhaps there might be some kind of tortilla soup that might not be too bad. No luck. Back off home to make soup.
I did a chicken the other night in Jim’s amazing outdoor wood-fired barbecue (big enough to roast a pig, but with a grill that moves up and down on a chain so you can do small stuff too). And I’d bought some endive when I was at the store a couple of days ago — and those gummy soups were so gross that I came home and sauteed off some onions, added some thyme and a few hot pepper flakes, tossed in a handful or two of arborio rice I found in the cupboard and then added chicken broth and a little wine. I cooked it until the rice looked like it was in the vicinity of al dente. Then I stripped the meat off the two chicken breasts from the other night (giving the skin and the really overcooked bits to the dogs, which made them love me), chopped up about half the endive and threw the two of them into the soup pot. It needed to cook for about ten more minutes. La voila. A nice, clean, brothy soup with no weird gummy substances. A pot of soup to see me through the next couple of days of weird Arizona chest cold.
A pot of soup, three lovey dogs, a cheery fireplace, a lot of books … not that one would want to get sick on vacation, but this isn’t a bad place to lie about …