There are days when you wake up, bounce out of bed and think “Yes, I can face the day.”
Then there are days when you wake up, bounce out of bed, and slowly realise that no, today is not one to be faced, it’s going to be one to be endured because at some time in the night, a cur made its way into your room, sandpapered your throat, stuffed dripping cotton wool into your sinuses and abandoned you to your headachey fate.
You know that there is nothing you can do. It’s in, and it’s about to settle. The best you can do is make the following days bearable. Before the AARGH I WANT TO SCRUB MY SINUSES WITH STEEL WOOL feeling sets in, stock up on Kind To Your Nose tissues. It’s worth it. Lip balm also stops a mistreated nose becoming too sore. (Do not use a minty one. Really.)
Make sure you have lots of drinks available because constant nose running makes you dehydrated, take your vitamin C dose, and buy in some good quality chicken soup.
Or if you are me, make chicken soup and feel a sense of achievement because you know you have food for the new few days when even putting a dressing gown on feels like a marathon wearing concrete gloves and boots.
I always keep chicken thighs in the freezer as they are quick to cook, retain far more flavour for stock than the breast, and have the best skin to crisp up in the oven afterwards.
There’s a quick method for a light chicken soup which I’ll write up first, as it’s a bit of a lifesaver.
1 chicken stock pot (I use Knorr as I think they taste the best)
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 chilli, chopped (totally optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
Simmer all of this together until the stock pot has dissolved, and the spring onions are soft, then drink out of a mug. You can add in quick cook noodles broken into small pieces if you want it to be more filling. I’m always one for feeding a cold, so I also made a more substantial soup.
Chicken, Garlic and Trahanas Soup
Trahanas is a brilliant way of preserving something for later use. It was mainly a way to preserve and use up excess milk, and when you have wonderful sunshine, you make use of it. It’s also a fabulous way to bulk out a thin soup, and make it into a filling, sustaining meal. I don’t know how long it keeps, I just know that it does.
You can buy it in most Greek or Middle Eastern stores, or can sometimes get it online here or here or here. I admit, I bought mine in Cyprus. Sorry about that. However, if you cannot get trahanas, you can just add rice or small pasta shapes to your stock to bulk it out, and add a squeeze of lemon for tang.
100g trahanas, soaked in cold water until it breaks apart. I can’t tell you how long, as each brand varies. My one took an hour but some do take longer.
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks (you want big bits so you get to eat those)
1 stick of celery, finely chopped as this one is for flavour, not for texture (chop up the rest of the celery and keep it in the freezer, it works great to add in to sauces and stews from frozen.)
2 tbs olive oil
5 or 6 chicken thighs, skin on
1 tbs dried marjoram
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp pul biber (Turkish red pepper)
Put the carrot and celery into a pan with the olive oil, and cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add in the chicken skin side down, and cook until there’s a good colour on the skin.
Add in the dried marjoram (don’t worry if you think it smells strong, it cooks out as quite a sweet herb).
Cover the chicken thighs with water, pop in the three garlic cloves, bring to the boil then reduce to a very low simmer and cook, covered, for at least 3 hours. Leave it puttering away while you do other things.
At the end of 3 or 4 hours, lift the chicken out and set aside. Don’t discard it, as it is beautifully tender and full of flavour. I roasted them off afterwards and they were delicious as a snack, or you can shred the meat and add that in to the soup when you serve it.
Add the trahanas and its soaking water into the pan, mix in the teaspoon of chicken stock powder, the turmeric and the pul biber.
Simmer for 30 minutes until the grains are softened.
You can cut up cubes of halloumi and warm them through in the soup if you like, or just eat it as is, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
It will set overnight, but just add more water to thin it down again. It’s very forgiving.