NOTE: Following is an excerpt from my February 2013 column in the Lancaster Sunday News. For the link to the referenced “Ask the Pediatrician” column, which may be of particular interest if you feel as though you or your children have been fighting colds and various illnesses since October, click here.
My dad does not cook. He jokes that his one attempt to make macaroni and cheese when my mom was away failed because he didn’t realize he had to pre-cook the noodles.
Yet, my dad mentioned to me recently that he now looks forward to reading the lifestyle section of our local newspaper. Not only does he check out his daughter’s recipes, he also has become a follower of the “Ask the Pediatrician” column across the page. Though his children are all grown up, my dad knows this doctor well. You see, she is my childhood friend.
“Dr. Pia” and I have known each other since kindergarten and were in each other’s weddings. We worked together on the McCaskey High School newspaper, “The Vidette”, though we never dreamed we’d be staring across the newspaper pages at one another.
In light of that, we thought it would be fun for me to cook one of her favorite recipes. How fitting that her pick is an elixir for all those unwanted colds and flus. She told me that she often thinks about printing this recipe on a script pad because so often the kids she sees need this more than any drug she can provide.
Ironically, the day I planned to make this soup, my older son came down with the knock-down-drag-out flu. It was one of the few things he wanted to eat for a few days, and it actually perked him up. The rest of us enjoyed this classic comfort food for its taste and warmth as well as the fun twist Pia offers on the traditional noodle.
Consider keeping the ingredients for this recipe on hand or freezing a batch. You never know when you may need it for your family or a friend.
- 8 cups (2 quart-size boxes) chicken broth (Pia doesn’t typically mandate organic for her patients but in this case she prefers it for maximum antioxidants and, depending on what you read, free range organic may have more.)
- 1 medium onion, chopped big so that if your child doesn’t like onions it is easy to scoop around them
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 ribs of celery, including the leaves, chopped
- 1/2 package (8 ounces) of Acini di Pepe (pasta resembling couscous; see note)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (I used about ½ cup…we like our greens)
- Salt and pepper to taste (I did not use any additional salt and used about ¼ teaspoon pepper)
- 1 rotisserie chicken, picked of all its meat and torn into bite-size pieces
Mix the stock, onion, carrots and celery together in a big soup pot. (If desired, you may sauté the veggies in a tablespoon of olive oil before adding the stock.) Bring to a boil. Add the pasta. Gently boil for about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and add the chicken and parsley. Keep on low heat a few minutes longer or until the carrots and celery are crisp-tender and the pasta is al dente. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve with saltine crackers and a lot of love.
- Acini di Pepe can be found in the pasta aisle. However, another small pasta of your choice may certainly be used instead.