'Tis the Season...for Soup

With flu bugs and snow starting to fly, soup never sounds so good

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By David Hammond

When I have a sore throat, no food sounds so good as soup.

For the past week or so, I’ve had a sore throat.  I’ve been slurping a lot of soup.

Fortunately for us in Oak Park, we have fairly good international representation of this universal dish.

New Pot Rice and Noodles (727 Lake) has a few soups, and my go-to bowl is the Tom Yum, a hot and sour soup: both the heat and citric acidity (provided by lemon grass and lime leaves) feels good on a sore throat. Chile heat has long been considered a remedy for colds, and you can ask for the soup “extra hot” if you’re a believer in the healing power of capsaicin. When I ordered the Tom Yum not long ago, it took about 10 minutes to make, but that’s a good thing: the mushroom and vegetables seemed fresh cut, toothsome, and not limp from cooking in broth for hours.

Onion Roll (6939 North Avenue) makes their soup in house, and I found the classic Chicken Soup to be better than what you might expect. The bowl contained big chunks of chicken, fresh cut carrots and (somewhat unexpectedly) cabbage, which made for a substantial sip.  In the research lab, chicken soup has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties that could explain why it soothes sore throats. In addition, the warmth of the soup seems to help break up congestion.

Probably the most satisfying soup of the past week was the Mughlai Gosht Soup at Khyber Pass (1031 Lake Street).  Almost like a stew, this familiar Indian soup features a thick broth, chunks of lamb, and a lot of spice that, for some reason, feels really good on a sore throat. Unlike the fresh cut vegetables of New Pot’s Tom Yum, the veggies in this soup have been cooked to the point of disintegration which, depending on how sore your throat is, could be a good thing. Unlike the relatively mild flavor profile of Onion Roll’s Chicken Soup, the Mughlai Gosht is a big tangy mouthful, so even if your throat is stuffy, you’re probably going to taste something.

Of course, soup is pretty easy to make at home, but when you’re sick, it’s nice to have someone else do the heavy lifting. With the range of soup options around town, it’s not hard to keep this simple meal interesting. And when you’re sick, the least you can do for yourself is put some good flavors in your mouth – and if a flavorful soup can also relieve your miserable condition, so much the better.


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