To Cook is to Love: A Foodie’s Journal; Homemade Prescription for Cold & Flu

John VerlindenJohn Verlinden
Photo: Rachel Power
John Verlinden

John Verlinden
Photo: Rachel Power

By: John Verlinden*/TRT Food Columnist–

There’s a nasty cold going around, and flu season is in high gear. These bugs are particularly vicious. Boston and other cities have declared public health emergencies, and your local ER is probably full of folks looking for relief. Getting the flu can be serious business, especially for the elderly, the very young and others with weakened immune systems.
But, for most of us, cold and flu symptoms are just something we have to deal with and struggle through. I know it’s a cliché, but I recommend chicken soup. This recipe, from my new book, “To Cook is To Love,” won’t cure your cold, but it will warm your insides and make you feel better. Chicken is a lean protein, the garlic and onion are natural antibiotics and antioxidants and the tomatoes are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K. Warning: This soup may cause drowsiness and a longing to curl up under a blanket and watch old movies, so don’t drive or operate heavy machinery after eating.

Sopa de Pollo (Chicken Soup)
Serves: 10
1 4-5 pound whole chicken (cut into pieces)
3 quarts water
1 large onion (peeled & coarsely chopped)
6 cloves garlic
2 large tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried leaf oregano (crushed)
½ pound vermicelli noodles or your favorite pasta

  1. Place all ingredients except pasta in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.
  2. Remove soup from the heat, then remove the chicken pieces from the soup and set aside to cool. When cool, chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  3. When the chicken can be handled, discard the skin and bones, cut the meat into bites and refrigerate.
  4. Remove the soup from the refrigerator and skim off all of the fat on the surface.
  5. Return the soup to the stockpot, add the chicken and bring to a boil.
  6. For a thick broth, dissolve 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a cup of cold water, add to the boiling soup and stir to mix thoroughly.
  7. When the broth has thickened, break the vermicelli pieces into thirds, add to the soup, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

*Share your thoughts, ask a question or suggest a topic for a future article – contact me: or visit and join our food forum. Until next time – ¡Mucho Gusto!, ¡Muchas Gracias! y ¡Buen Provecho!

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