The baby and I recently flew to Chicago for Easter and were still recovering from the effects of long distance travel, he by waking up from one to four in the morning every day and me with a massive cold. And so I felt the urge to combat the cold with something hot, green, salty and sour. The soup I came up with is vaguely oriental but not authentically anything. It was just very very good. It made me feel good eating it and hopefully it will make me feel better (in the sense of no longer ill) soon. Garlic and ginger are reputed to have germ-combating qualities and hot soup is a traditional weapon against the common cold. In addition, the spiciness of the soup can be tasted by the dullest of palates.
Hot and Sour Spinach Soup (serves two generously)
2 large handfuls (about four cups, chopped) fresh spinach
4-6 cups home-made chicken or turkey broth
2 large knobs (about the size of a thumb) of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
1 dried hot pepper
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
Place the dried pepper, garlic and ginger in a small mesh bag or use a little cheesecloth and string to construct one. Lacking either of these, you could just put the ingredients directly in the broth, but it will mean fishing them out again later. Place the bag (if you have one) in the broth and simmer for half an hour to 45 minutes. Wash and slice the mushrooms finely and add them to the broth while it's simmering. Wash and roughly chop the spinach. When the broth has taken on as much garlic and ginger flavour as you like, remove the bag. Five minutes before serving, add the spinach and the juice of the lemon. You don't want to add the spinach any sooner as it will quickly lose its lovely fresh green look and most of its flavour. It should be just barely wilted when you serve the soup. Taste for salt; you will probably want a fair amount if you are sick and your tastebuds are dulled. For once don't worry about your blood pressure and indulge yourself with a generous helping.
Now, does anyone have a trick for teaching a three-month-old how to get back into the habit of sleeping through the night?