Best homemade soups!
October 27, 2012 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Please share with me your tried and true, passed down through the ages, made-with-love, illness curing soup recipes!

I need recipes for soup! Maybe it's a sentimental favorite. Or the one that contains secret ingredients (!). Whatever it is, it's the soup that you make that always makes people feel better when they are sick.

I ask because my SO is sick with a lingering cold that has gotten worse (he's seeing a Dr. tomorrow) and I want to make him something healthy and yummy today! Thank you!
posted by marimeko to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Chicken broth, as much garlic as you have on hand, cayenne pepper until it hurts a little, some frozen veggies (nice and mushy!) and salt to taste. This is my tried-and-true personal cold cure. (Sometimes I substitute slightly elderly brussels sprouts for the frozen veggies, but I *like* brussels sprouts.)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:02 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: i like a mug of miso soup with wakame and spinach. you can just make it right in the mug, no fuss: a spoonful of miso, some hot water, toss in the seaweed and veggies. i usually douse it with whatever hot sauce is laying around. i like that it's easy to make in a single serving, and miso is nutritious and salty.

sometimes i make a more elaborate version in a pot on the stovetop with buckwheat noodles and an egg cracked into it, but only on Fancy Night.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 12:13 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ooh, the egg cracked in is a fantastic way to get some no-fuss protein. Strongly recommend, especially if this is the kind of sick that makes eating heavy foods unappealing.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:15 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: Dice some chicken and vegetables (generally new potatoes, turnips, carrots, celery, cabbage, onions), boil from cold water with bayleaves, then simmer for 20 minutes (/until root vegetales are soft). Add salt and pepper, and mustard to taste. Boiling everything from cold really brings out the flavour of the chicken and the veg so there's no need to use stock, you can get loads of vitamins and minerals from the veg and it takes very little prep time.
posted by pikeandshield at 12:16 PM on October 27, 2012

Go to your local Vietnamese place and get a big bowl of pho.
posted by shoesietart at 12:20 PM on October 27, 2012 [16 favorites]

Hot and Sour Soup from the Chinese restaurant down the street. If I tell them it's for cold remedy, they make it extra spicy. It will clear out your head, and then proceed to clear out everything else, too.

My at-home go to is French Onion Soup, caramelizing the onions in the slow cooker, then adding the garlic and the beef , chicken and vegetable stocks when the onions are done cooking down. Must have nutmeg and black pepper.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 12:29 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: I also make soup with as much garlic and spicy pepper (dried cayenne or fresh jalapeño) as I can stand! Add whatever veggies you have on hand and herbs. I like adding a bunch of cilantro and lime juice at the very end, but really the garlic and pepper is key!
posted by Swisstine at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hot and Sour Soup.. There are a lot more traditional recipes out there with all sorts of exciting ingredians which are fun to make too, but when I am feeling off colour this is the version I reach for. Upping the spiciness helps if you are having any sort of sinus problems too.
posted by wwax at 12:33 PM on October 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Pho does indeed have even more eldritch and unspeakable powers of healing than even the most mystically jewish of chicken soups.
posted by elizardbits at 12:33 PM on October 27, 2012 [7 favorites]

Chicken tom yum is also good for head colds, but not ones that involve excessive coughing, IME.
posted by elizardbits at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: Miso soup with a poached egg and matzo balls made with lots of wasabi is the go-to meal in our house.
posted by evoque at 12:44 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: Congee! I like mine with scallions, ginger, and white fish when I'm sick.
posted by scody at 1:01 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I chop up a whole cabbage add just enough pure water to cover boil for twenty minutes let stand until cool strain and drink refreshing cabbage broth .
Best with nothing added, just cabbage, very restorative.
posted by hortense at 1:05 PM on October 27, 2012

nb cabbage soup can make your entire house smell like the Lost Kingdom of the Fartmonsters, although this can be mitigated by (iirc) throwing an entire walnut, shell and all, into the pot.
posted by elizardbits at 1:21 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Why reinvent the wheel?

Chicken noodle soup is your answer. In case you don't have your own recipe, I'll share mine.

Dice celery, carrots and onion. Saute these in a big pot with a legitimately sized chunk of real butter. When the onions are translucent, push the veggies into a ring, creating an open space in the center of the pot. Add another pat of butter in the center of the pot. When it's melty, add about 1/8th cup of flour and stir it into the butter, then mix it up with the veggies so they are all coated. This looks sticky and strange but it is an important step. Now stir in about about a cup of COLD milk, maybe more (you want it to cover the veggies). If the veggies, butter and flour are hot and milk is cold you won't get lumps.

Next, pour in chicken broth. You can use two cans, or you can make it out of something like Better Than Bullion. Build it up with a little water based on how much soup you want to end up with, but don't thin it out two much. It's better to err on the side of less water.

Now season to taste. I use pepper, salt, celery salt, cayenne and garlic (you can use fresh garlic or the powder stuff, it's up to you) and an all purpose mixed seasoning like Italian seasoning. But you can use whatever you like. It's pretty hard to mess up.

Now for the chicken. I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs because thighs are nearly impossible to over cook. Put them in whole.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cover and let it cook for like an hour. When the chicken is done, pull it out and shred it with two forks and then return it to the pot.

Add some frozen peas, chopped celery leaves (whatever you can pull off the celery bunch) and chopped parsely.

Warm it back up to a light boil and add a half a package or less of egg noodles.

When the noodles are done, the soup is ready.


You can vary this recipe in a ton of ways. If you want really delicious soup that's a pain in the ass to prepare you can use chicken thighs with the skin on. Cook them with butter just until the skin starts to brown and stick to the pot before you do the veggies at the very beginning of the process. Remove the thighs to a plate to cool and then add the veggies. This is a nice extra step because the chicken fat and the little brown bits that stick to the pan really add flavor. You have to handle the barely cooked thighs when they've cooled in order to remove the skin before you add them to the pot later.

Or you can use rice instead of noodles. To do that add about a half cup of rice when you add the broth.

Good Luck!
posted by dchrssyr at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: This garlic soup is great for this. Or here's a Mexican version with hot peppers.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: I'm pretty sure this Caldo Tlalpeno brought me back from the brink of doom this week. (Thanks, honey!) When I'm feeling better I'll make some avgolemono just to be sure.

How much longer can this plague possibly last? I have no more lung to cough up!
posted by Space Kitty at 1:55 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chicken curry soup with rice: saute sliced garlic and chopped onions and peppers and parsley with lots of oregano and basil and some salt and pepper. Throw in two thinly sliced chicken breasts and stir until they're cooked on the outside, then add 2¼ cups of chicken broth and a good bit of curry powder and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of rice and simmer until all the liquid is soaked up by the rice. Put some of this in a bowl and cover with hot chicken broth to make soup.
posted by nicwolff at 2:51 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: I think other people have the chicken/veggie soups covered. Those are definitely good.

When I'm sick, and I don't feel like cooking for myself, I go for one of three things:

1. Pho
2. Tom Yum
3. Kimchi flavored instant noodles from the Korean store. Not particularly healthy (heavy on the sodium and MSG) but they taste fantastic, even with a stuffy nose, and the extreme spiciness opens up the nasal passages like nothing else. Always makes me feel much better.
posted by Cygnet at 2:54 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: This Spicy Chicken Soup is amazing for clearing out the sinuses. We use homemade canned tomato soup and turkey stock (instead of water and chicken bullion).
posted by Nickel Pickle at 3:00 PM on October 27, 2012

Response by poster: Wow! It's hard to decide!
posted by marimeko at 3:26 PM on October 27, 2012

Why reinvent the wheel?

Because chicken soup is only one culture's wheel. There are other cultures with other soups for cold remedies, and ALL OF THEM ARE YUM! (I wouldn't be able to decide either.)
posted by DarlingBri at 3:33 PM on October 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I invented this when I was sick once and didn't have the energy to get fancy. This is the easiest method – using ordinary drumsticks or raw spinach (plus other veggies, chopped or grated) is better but more work. This is the least-work method for ill people:

Package of 4 or 6 chicken thighs, skinned and boned
A large onion, chopped
Garlic, as much as you want
Hot pepper and ginger in some form, chopped or added whenever
Frozen chopped spinach
(I also add a large tablespoon of mixed dried seaweed for the umami. You may not have this but if you do, go for it.)
Lime juice (2-3 limes)
A fistful of rice

Sauté the chicken, onion and garlic, hot peppers and ginger (and seaweed in whatever form) in some oil for awhile till browned. Meanwhile, boil the kettle. At some point, empty the kettle into the soup pot. Sploosh! Simmer for a bit. Eventually, haul out the chicken bits, chop them up and put them back in. Add more water if you seem to need it, the rice, and a fist-sized chunk of frozen spinach (or slightly more, it's adjustable). Let it all simmer for awhile till the rice is cooked.

Now squeeze in 2 limes worth of juice and add a large pinch of salt and stir everything up and taste it. At this stage you will probably want to add more salt or lime or adjust some other element of the flavouring to your taste.

This soup is very revivifying and soothing, also nourishing. If you keep some till later, you'll find you need to add more water to thin it out – the rice seems to soak up the liquid longer than you expect.

On no account should this recipe be ruined by adding celery. Adding grated carrot and zucchini can be nice if you have them and have the energy.
posted by zadcat at 3:40 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The South Indian version of chicken soup is rasam (link to my little recipe site).
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:55 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: Chicken Dumpling Soup ...

This recipe is from my great-great grandmother. I usually omit the cabbage.

2 lbs chicken (any meat -- I use breasts) cut into cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 head (yes, head) of garlic, crushed or chopped VERY finely
olive oil
italian seasoning
6 to 12 cups of water
1 bouillon cube per 1.5 cups of water
5-6 carrots, coined
3 stalks celery, either chopped fine or in stalks to be removed (omit-able)
1/4 head of cabbage, sliced into chunks about double the size of a postage stamp at the largest (omit-able)

1 T crisco
1 egg
Farina (until the dough is no longer sticky)

Note#1: The healing power comes from the garlic. You can't omit it. Otherwise, the recipe scales.

Note#2: When I'm cooking it in the winter time, I make it chunky and thick with more onion, cabbage, and less water. When I'm cooking it for a sick person, I scale it all the way up and double the dumplings to create more broth and easily digestible carbs for the sick person.

Note#3: Farina may be tough to find. I find it at ethnic groceries or WinCo foods, where it's usually in the bulk bins. Cream of Wheat can be used as a replacement; that's basically what Farina is anyway.

Brown the chicken with the garlic and onion in olive oil in the stock pot you're using. Add the water, boullion cubes, carrots, italian seasoning (to taste), and other veggies. Add black pepper or seasoned pepper if desired. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to simmer until the carrots are tender (about 45 minutes).

To make the dumplings, throw the crisco and egg into a bowl and then add farina in stages of about 1/3 of a cup. Mix with a spoon. Keep adding Farina until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. Bring the soup back to a boil, form the dough into a ball, and break off portions of it about the size of a your thumb directly into the soup. They take about 10-15 minutes to cook fully. After the dumplings are cooked, the soup's ready.
posted by SpecialK at 4:01 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I make a simple chicken/vegetable soup with garlic, ginger, and curry. Always makes me feel better.

I use 2 split breasts of chicken from the store. Cut off the breast meat and tenderloin and set aside. Put the bones (with meat and skin clinging on) into a pot of water, and simmer until yo have a nice broth. Strain well and keep the broth. Then, in a nonstick skillet, place a little olive oil, some minced garlic, and ginger. Heat gently until aromatic, then add a couple tablespoons curry powder and stir to toast. Finally, add one or two carrots, diced, one or two ribs celery, half an onion, a can of diced tomato if you like, and any other veggies you like in soup. Soften for a while, then add the breast and tenderloin meat, which you've chopped into dice, and cook. Finally, pour the reserved stock over this and simmer until it looks and smells heavenly.

My mom also swears by carrot and ginger soup when sick. I just tried it - you can't knock it, super healthy. Cut a couple cups of carrot and half an onion into dice. Grate a big piece of fresh ginger - like, a square inch or even two. A lot is good. Mince a garlic clove. Put the garlic and most of the ginger in a skillet and saute in olive oil. Add the carrots and onion and water or broth, and some salt and pepper. Simmer. Once the carrots are soft, use an immersion blender to puree them, or just throw it in the food processor, to get a smooth consistency. This is really yummy. It also takes well to variations - I added some coconut milk and scallions, for instance. Good stuff, lotsa vitamin and A, and ginger seems like cold magic.
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My default soup of delicious chicken + healing is sopa tarasca. This is one of those amazing meals that sounds like a simple dish but is complex and interesting and delicious beyond expectations.
posted by judith at 8:23 PM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: Oh, carrot ginger soup! Here is the recipe I use. It is so good I had to make three batches before I was willing to share with my partner.

As an added bonus: super cheap. (The coriander is honestly optional. The ginger is already so awesome, it doesn't bring much to the party IMHO.)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:51 AM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, I meant to add why I only saute "most of the garlic" at first - it mellows in cooking so I like to add a little bit of more fresh grated ginger at the end for a stronger ginger flavor.

Thanks for your recipe, DarlingBri!
posted by Miko at 10:35 AM on October 28, 2012

Best answer: I put chicken broth and simmer the hell out of it until it's thick, then add more chicken broth, dump it in the slow cooker with an entire bunch of fresh dill, a couple carrots, a quartered onion, a ton of garlic cloves, some quartered parsnips, a palm full of peppercorns and a couple fennel bulbs.

Leave it in for 12 hours.

Then strain all the solids out.

Either sip it as broth or add matzoballs. Best soup ever.
posted by np312 at 12:17 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know about the cancer claim it makes (!) but I do know this soup has anti-inflammatory ingredients and is VERY good for you. <a
posted by cicadadays at 12:17 PM on November 3, 2012

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