Get well soon chicken soup

We’ve been ravaged by illness this week… some type of 24 hour bug that involves high fever and makes it hard to keep food down. When that happens, I make chicken soup.

Soup is the original one pan one process dish. It is really easy, although when you don’t feel good, it might seem like an insurmountable task. Trust me, the result is highly worth it. The science is with me on the benefits of chicken soup.

My recipe isn’t complex, but it does contain many powerhouse ingredients that can strengthen the immune system, including chicken, garlic, ginger, honey, cabbage, and spinach, plus a generous amount of fresh herbs.

First off, wipe off every door and toilet handle with a good cleanser. Wash your hands really well. Then get out your ingredients.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast
1/2 onion
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
3 carrots
1/4 head of green cabbage, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups of any other fresh, canned, or frozen veggies you happen have (celery, broccoli, spinach, peas, corn, water chestnuts, etc)
5-8 cups of water
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs honey
A handful of fresh or frozen herbs of your choice (parsley, basil, mint or cilantro tend to work best).
1 cup of small pasta or wild rice.
Salt and pepper
Paprika

Chop the onion fine and grate the ginger and garlic. In a large dutch oven or similar pot, put chicken and onions with some salt, pepper, and paprika, together and let them cook over high heat. You are looking for a caramel color (deep but not quite burned) on the meat. Be patient. This is where a lot of flavor comes from since we are not using chicken broth.

Add the garlic and ginger, soy sauce, honey and water. Start with 5 cups of water and add as much as you desire for your soup. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. Add any and all of pasta or rice and the veggies except delicate veggies (e.g., spinach, frozen peas) and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add any additional veggies and the herbs. Stir and season to taste.

Lambic braised slow-cooker ribs with jus BBQ sauce

These 2-step slow cooker ribs use lambic beer as a braising liquid, and can be finished by using the jus to create your own BBQ sauce.

Ribs, before they are baked in the sauce.

Slow cooker ribs can be done so many ways. Here is the method I like to use. This is a two-cook method so it is important not to overcook the ribs in the slow cooker. You want them tender, but not fall-off-the-bone. They should hold up in the oven.

It s very unlike me to engage in a two-step cooking process, but for this recipe, it is worth the extra effort.

What you need

1 large onion quartered or sliced
1 package loin baby back or St Luis style ribs
6 oz of beer… I used Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic (see notes)

Spice rub:

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 bay
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3-5 whole cloves or allspice corns
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

For the BBQ sauce:
Braising liquid (strained and defatted, if desired)
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce or gochujang (spicy chili sauce)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

How you do:

Season the ribs with your spice mixture. Load onions into the bottom of the slow cooker and lay ribs on top. Alternatively, curl ribs around the sides of the slow cooker. Pour the Lambic into the bottom of the dish and cover. Get a big glass and enjoy some Lambic while you relax. Cook on low for 6 hours. Resist temptation to lift the lid.

When the ribs are done, line a sheet pan with foil, parchment, or other non-stick surface and heat oven to 375F. Move the ribs to the pan and section them, if desired.

Strain the liquid left in the cooker (you can save the onions for a stir-fry or as a garnish, if you like). Use a fat separator to remove the fat and move the jus to a medium sauce pan, reserving a few tablespoons to mix with the cornstarch (slurry). Add the sugar, chili sauce, and cornstarch slurry. Cook on high to reduce sauce to desired thickness…between 10-20 minutes.

Brush some sauce onto the ribs and put them in the oven for 45 minutes, glazing with the sauce every 10-15 minutes or so.

Notes:

Lambic is a sour, fruity beer that comes in various flavors. It is delightful and refreshing in the summer. Lindeman’s peach and raspberry are my favorites, but any will do for this recipe. What I like about this beer is that it adds acidity and sweetness to the mix. However, you can use any beer or cider you like. If you use the lambic, get the big bottle so you can have some while you cook and then serve it with dinner.

A saucy minx.

The best homemade stir fry sauce to keep in your fridge.

Looks like I need to make more…

Today I’m introducing you to my favorite sauce. It’s one I make myself and keep in my fridge at all times. I can also add to it easily and often do when I have the right ingredients on hand.

This is a basic sauce, but it makes my life easier to have it premixed and ready to go when I’m making stir fry.

The one issue I have is that I really don’t measure. I go by taste on this one. But I’ll try to give you approximations so that you can make this at home, and adjust to your liking.

Ingredients

The secret sauce! Not pictured: scallions (I didn’t have any), rice wine vinegar.
  1. Soy sauce (about 1 cup)
  2. Honey (about 1/4 cup)
  3. Finely grated ginger (1 tablespoon or to taste)
  4. 2-3 cloves of finely grated or crushed garlic (about 1 tablespoon)
  5. 1-2 stalks chopped scallions
  6. Thai fish sauce (a teaspoon or to taste)
  7. Rice or white wine vinegar (a teaspoon or to taste)
  8. Optional: Shichimi—a red chili pepper blend (1/8 teaspoon)

Variations

With a simple adjustment, this sauce base is a great replacement for teriyaki sauce (with far fewer preservatives). All you need to do is measure out 1/4 cup of the sauce, add 1 cup water, the juice from an orange or lemon, and 1/4 cup brown sugar into a pan over medium heat. Add a cornstarch slurry of 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 water and cook for about 5 minutes.

Another quick adjustment makes it a great dipping sauce for gyoza. Measure out a few tablespoons of the sauce, add an equal amount of rice wine vinegar and a few drops of sesame oil, as well as a few extra splashes of fish oil. The dipping sauce is light and tangy—perfect for the dumplings.

You can experiment with spices. I really like shichimi, but it would be great with chili oil—or even a packet of the chili flakes that come with pizza delivery if that’s what you have on hand.

A few tips

As I mentioned, I add to this sauce whenever its convenient. For example, when I buy a bunch of green onions at the market for a recipe, there are always leftover stalks. Sometimes I can use those during the week, but other times, I might not get to them. If they are looking a little limp (but are free of mold) I’ll trim any questionable parts, chop up the good parts and throw it in the jar. Because the main ingredients are soy sauce, honey, and vinegar, the onions are pickled. The ginger and garlic are likewise preserved.

Speaking of ginger, whenever I buy ginger root, I slice it up and keep it in my freezer. It stays pretty hearty and can be used in to make ginger tea, smoothies, lemonade, curd, or in this sauce whenever it is needed. The garlic can also be frozen (or stored in oil), but my husband grows garlic in our herb garden, so we have a pretty good supply on hand.

If you don’t have fish sauce, you can omit it… but its sooooooo good, I think you’ll want to add it. It adds a layer of umami flavor that makes the sauce irresistible. A small bottle will last for years.

Do you have a secret sauce? Let me know!