In early November, Greg and I arrived in sunny Southern California for a week of much longed-for and needed vacation. I took no time in shimmying into my bathing suit (and immediately donning a cover-up), loading my tote bag with “beach reads” and a pair of sunglasses. I snapped a picture of the glistening pool, palm trees, blue sky and mountains in the distance, then posted it to Facebook extolling the joys of time away! Savored every moment of sunshine that first day of vacation, went back to the condo enjoyed a relaxing evening and fell asleep.
The next morning I woke to find that my skin was hot, my body aching, my throat swollen, my head felt about twice its normal size, and my ears seemed stuffed with cotton. Greg too had caught the bug, but he had taken the flu shot earlier in the month, so his misery was limited in time and scope. I did not get the shot, so my misery knew no bounds. There was no doubt about it: I had the flu. I don’t really remember much about the next next six days of “vacation” as I spent most of it sleeping or on drugs.
When I am sick, Greg does a fine job caring for me, truly he does. That entire week he was the one who braved getting out and going to the store, ferrying in rations of cold medicine, cough drops and canned chicken soup. But the truth is, I wish I could have a Well Me to take care of the Sick Me, because the Well Me makes a killer homemade chicken soup.
This one uses one of my favorite Trader Joe’s products: Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta. The lemon flavor is not overly strong and the texture of these noodles is perfect for chicken soup: firm but tender –a near-perfect pasta product!
The great thing about this homemade soup is that it only takes 30 minutes to make but tastes like you’ve toiled in the kitchen all day. The special noodles take it to a “gourmet” level that you would be proud to serve to guests.
I believe this easy chicken soup will become your go-to recipe to serve on a chilly day, make for a sick family member or cheer up a friend with the flu. (You might also consider tucking in a copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook for your friend. Nothing cures what ails you like homemade soup and laughter.) It is also easy to “veganize” this dish, and I’ll list alternative ingredients in the recipe below.
Fast & Easy Lemon-Pepper Pappardelle Chicken Soup
2 T. olive oil (or oil and butter combo)
2 T. flour
4 cups of chicken or veggie broth
½ c. water
½ c. milk or almond milk
3 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
4 oz. Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Noodles, broken into 1 – 2 inch pieces (Trader Joe’s brand recommended/ 4 ozs is about ½ a package. Unflavored Pappardelle or other wide noodle will also work if you prefer or cannot find pappardelle pasta at your grocery store.)
4 carrots, peeled and diced (the smaller the dice or slice, the faster they’ll cook)
3 large mushrooms, diced
2 cups of cooked chicken, pulled from a deli roasted chicken (I like to keep some of the pieces fairly large, some small. )
*VEGANS can substitute a can of big butter beans or your favorite vegan chicken substitute for the meat. But add toward the end of cooking.
½ c. frozen corn
½ c. frozen peas
½ to 1 t. salt (you’ll have to taste test because some broths and chickens are saltier than others)
½ to 1 t. pepper (according to your taste)
½ to 1 t. your favorite dried herbs ( I use a little Italian seasoning, a little basil)
Dash hot sauce to taste (like Tabasco)
In a big soup pot, heat the oil or oil/butter combination until it begins to bubble. Add flour and whisk this roux until smooth and bubbly. Very slowly, and while still whisking with one hand, add one cup of the chicken broth, stirring until smooth. Add the rest of the broth, the water, the milk and garlic, then continue to stir and let it come to a boil.
Add the broken pappardelle noodles and carrots and mushrooms. Simmer this until the veggies and noodles are almost tender. Add chicken, corn, peas, seasonings and dash of hot sauce. Continue to simmer until noodles and veggies are tender (but not mushy) and heated through. Adjust seasonings to taste.
We usually serve steaming bowls of this hearty soup with hot buttered cornbread and fresh apple slices.