(Becky, the Mama.)
A sure-fire way to humble yourself is to announce: “I never (fill-in-the-blank)” publically. (Or worse, “My child will never…..”) And so when I declared, on Facebook that I almost never get sick, I should have known I was in for it.
For some unknown reason, for nearly a week, day after day, I forgot to take my daily regime of immune-boosting supplements (fish oil, odorless garlic, probiotics, super green food powder) and woke up one morning feeling as though I was swallowing razor blades.
I went on the attack with liberal doses of all my regular supplements above plus a couple of more exotic-sounding ones: olive leaf extract and astragalus. By mid-afternoon my throat had calmed considerably and by nightfall it did not hurt at all. (I did, however, get the standard stuffy head, runny nose bit – though, thankfully, without fever and it seems to be running its course fairly quickly.)
My husband was also out of town, so I had no choice but to practice good self-care and nourish my body as best I could, all by my lonesome.
In addition to honey-sweetened white tea (more nutrition-packed than green tea) laced with fresh grated ginger, and sips of Feel Good Blueberry Smoothie, I made two pots of healing soup.
First, I made a classic home-style chicken soup, a super quick and easy recipe I’ll share in coming weeks. The other, is my new favorite “healing soup” – a Thai Panang Curry soup, rich with cancer-fighting and immune boosting antioxidants from the ginger and spices, cruciferous veggies, shitake mushrooms (which contain a compound called lentinan, shown to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease) and vitamin & mineral rich kale. Coconut milk, too, has healing properties. It contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Afriend introduced me to my first good Thai Panang curry , when she bought us both take-out containers of it during a working writer’s lunch. It was love at first bite. It hit all the strong flavor notes I crave: spice from the curry and ginger, slightly sweet and creamy from the coconut milk, a touch of tang from fresh lime, and salty-savory-earthy from the mushrooms, veggies and broth.
It sounds so exotic, but I do not make complicated recipes, especially when I’m fighting a cold, so trust me – this is quick and easy. Feel free to substitute any veggies you have on hand, or enjoy, in this basic recipe. I’ve included instructions for both tradition curry with rice and also the soup, in the recipe below.
“Healing” Panang Curry Soup
1 can coconut milk (I prefer whole fat as it makes a creamier soup).
1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth) — use 3/4 c if you prefer to make the thicker curry version
½ small jar Thai red curry (about 3 T – less if you prefer less spice) (This jar of curry is found in Asian section of most groceries now and is small, about the size of a baby food jar.)
1 t. fresh grated ginger (pinch of dried ginger if you don’t have fresh)
1 t. brown sugar
Soy sauce or sea salt to taste
1 c. rainbow slaw (or broccoli slaw)
1 large clove garlic
1 T. olive or coconut oil
1 T. butter
2/3 c. sliced mushrooms (I used shitake)
1 c. loosely packed, torn kale
1 fresh chopped tomato
2 sliced green onions
Slice of lime
Cilantro (sprig or chopped) and/or basil for garnish
Protein of your choice: grilled diced tofu, diced or shredded chicken; or cooked shrimp, 1/2 to 1 cup depending on preference. I use a small amount of chicken in the soup — as I like the veggies taking center stage in this soup. You could also sprinkle in toasted peanuts for added protein. For the curry and rice version I prefer shrimp, about 5 medium shrimp per person.)
Saute garlic with mushrooms, slaw and kale in oil and butter in a deep large skillet until just tender. Dump all the ingredients except the last three (green onions, lime, cilantro or fresh basil ) into a large skillet and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy. Add chopped fresh tomato last, and stir to heat through. Ladle veggies and broth into each bowl, then garnish with a sprig of cilantro or basil (or chop it up and sprinkle), some green onions, and a slice of lime to squeeze over and stir in right before eating.
Variation: To make a more traditional curry instead of soup, use half the broth and put a scoop of jasmine rice in the middle of the bowl before garnishes. Sauteed shrimp is beautiful, artfully arranged around the rice and on top of the curry. You can use any veggies you like in place of slaw, mushrooms or kale. Add slices of cooked sweet potato and pineapple for a creamy pineapple curry. To add heat, use a few drop of siracha sauce or thai chili paste.
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