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Feeling that a cold might be creeping up on me gets me planning all the ways I can try to fight it off. These ‘ways’ usually involve food. We have been eating lots of garlic, onion, lemons, herbs, chicken stock, and drinking orange juice and hot honey and lemon. If my throat gets stratchy and sore, I head for the cupboard, grab a teaspoon, scoop out a spoonful of ‘spring flower’ honey brought back from our travels in the Loire, and slowly suck on it. It coats your throat and tastes delicious, plus I’m sure I’ve read that honey has antibacterial properties. It certainly does the trick.
So when N woke up on Saturday morning with a sore throat too, it was essential to fill our bellies with something healing for lunch. We opted for a firm favourite in our house, a pasta broth. Its part soup, part broth, part bowl of pasta. At its most basic you cook some teeny pasta in stock rather than water and add any combination of tiny diced vegetables. Every time we make cook this dish it is slightly different, a different combination of vegetables, herbs and seasonings.
This time we cracked open a tub of frozen homemade chicken stock, to ensure the best possible healing powers, no stock cubes today. I used the vegetables that we had lying around in the fridge – a lonesome carrot that had got forgotten at the bottom of the salad draw, a small white onion, a chunk of celery, some sunblushed tomatoes, a few oyster mushrooms, and a bulb of fresh garlic.
Firstly, I finely diced everything – except the mushrooms and sunblushed tomatoes, which were roughly chopped. The onion, celery and fresh garlic were sweated in a little oil. Next the carrot was added, stirred a little, then the mushrooms added. The mini pasta was added (we used a small pasta shaped like rice) and stirred in, then the chicken stock added and the whole lot simmered.
With a couple of minutes to go before the pasta is cooked, the sunblushed tomatoes are added. I also added a sprinkle of dried herbs. Once the pasta is cooked, I added a handful of chopped parsley and the juice of a lemon – the lemon juice just lifts the whole dish and transforms it – for me it wouldn’t be the same without it. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You will find that most of the liquid gets absorbed by the pasta, so it’s more like a sloppy pasta dish.
Serve it up with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and an extra grinding of black pepper if you’re me. You could also add some grated Parmesan or a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves. Bread or toast with a smear of butter is also a must to mop up any remaining broth.