Being single usually isn’t all that bad. You can watch whatever programs you like; nobody hogs the remote, reprograms your car radio buttons, snores, eats the slice of cake you were saving for later, or requires you to go to really boring work parties because “I went to yours.”
But being sick when you’re single really sucks. I know “sucks” is an inelegant way to put it, but “unpleasant” just doesn’t catch the depth of feeling. It sucks, and there is no way around it. One can’t arrange to have a suitably sympathetic boyfriend on call to insist that you sleep in, go to the drugstore when you’re so dizzy with flu you can’t see straight, or to make you soup.
Soup, of course, is key.
Much as I like soup, when I’m sick, I want simple. Sopa Azteca, tortilla soup, gumbo, etc. are all wonderful, but too complicated. A good chicken soup is therapeutic, but it takes time to make, and I haven’t found a canned chicken soup I like. (Being a foodie can be hazardous.) Campbell’s canned tomato soup (made with water, please) is almost perfect, but I didn’t have any on hand.
I could have gone to the store, but I was in that mid-level range of illness. The point where you’re mind says you should be up and doing, because lying in bed has become unutterably boring, but your body is just not cooperating. (Case in point, Sunday I got winded making the bed and had to sit down and rest afterwards.)
This soup was one I bookmarked because I’m trying to use up miso I bought for my Japanese cooking experiment*. And other than the miso, all the ingredients are things I usually have on hand, so no going to the grocery store and infecting the neighborhood.
True, this recipe does involve chopping 1 onion and 2 pounds of carrots, but you can do that sitting down. I did. Deb Perleman of Smitten Kitchen finishes this soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and and some scallions. Oil makes me feel slightly nauseated at the moment, so I pureed a seeded ancho chili into it, because I like a soup with a bit of bite. The soup was both hot and sweet. And all the beta carotene, vitamin C or whatever it is you get from all those carrots has got to be good for you.
Carrot soup with miso
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 regular or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated ginger, or more to taste
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken)
- 1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth and ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.Puree soup in batches in blender, or all at once with an immersion blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso and a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste. ( I found the miso contained enough salt to make any extra salt unnecessary.)
This soup is a good basic. It's good plain, as a ginger carrot soup, or you can finish it with sesame oil and scallions, or red pepper flake. You can do what I did and puree a seeded chili into it. Coriander might be nice.
*if you’ve been following the blog, you know the Japanese cooking experiment was over a year ago. But I’ve found that miso, refrigerated in a sealed container, has a shelf life of approximately forever.