I flew home over Christmas break for the first time in about four or five years. I had great plans for my trip home. Lots of people to see. Lots of things to do. And most importantly, lots of food to eat.
When I arrived at LAX for my flight to Chicago, I went to check my bags and realized I had left my cell phone in my car. Perfect.
My last few texts from my cousin who had been planning to pick me up in Chicago had been: “Let me know when your flight takes off” and “Let me know when you land in Chicago.” That’s a heck of a lot easier to do when you have a cell phone.
Somehow I had the wherewithal to remember my cousin’s cell phone number – a number I haven’t dialed in over 10 years, I’m guessing. And luckily for me, some very kind women near me in line allowed me to use their cell phones to contact my dad and my cousin to let them know I forgot my cell phone.
I arrived in Chicago and was swooped up by my cousin with minimum hitch (for having no cell phone). I arrived at my mom’s house at 2 am deliriously excited to start my vacation; though I could not get a hold of many people since I had no cell phone. No matter. My phone was to arrive the next day as my dad had jetted off to the post office to send it overnight the moment he was alerted that I left the phone in my car. I spent my first day of vacation sleeping and doing nothing much; that night my mom hosted my dad’s side of the family at her house.
The next day I got sick. Really sick. Flu-sick, though I didn’t know it at the time. I thought I was going to die. I could barely move. My chest burned when I coughed. I thought I had pneumonia or maybe bronchitis. I had a fever. My body alternated between freezing and overheating and I would wake up in pools of sweat whenever I fell asleep. And I couldn’t sleep for more than four hour stretches and only with the help of sleep aids. I could barely speak and when I did it exhausted me.
Day-by-day, my plans went out the window. I was not able to do anything or see anyone. As I said, I could barely move. Unfortunately, my mom had planned a party for her side of the family that Saturday and had cooked most the food ahead of time. Canceling wasn’t an option, though some of my family balked at the idea of being in the same house as me. I stayed in my bedroom the entire time and listened to my family down below as they ate and were merry. A few brave souls dared to come up to my room to say hi.
Part of the most disappointing thing about being sick is not being able to eat or taste food. There was a point when I was at my lowest of low where all I was eating was chicken broth with some oyster crackers. Like once a day. Note; despite the fact that I was barely eating I am positive I lost no weight which is mega irritating.
I flew back to Los Angeles with a lingering fever and cough and about 30 pounds of food. My mom made this amazing crockpot soup the night her family came over for dinner and I quarantined myself in my room. And I finally got to try it out when I arrived back in SoCal. After a few days. When I was able to eat again.
My mom got the recipe from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel but the original recipe came from Pinch of Yum website. All I can say about the soup is: heavenly. And worth the long wait!
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2/3 c. chopped celery (my mom doubled this ingredient)
- 2/3 c. chopped carrots (my mom doubled this ingredient)
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 c. chicken broth
- 3 T. cornstarch dissolved in 2 T. water
- 2 c. half and half
- 1 c. milk
- 2 1lb. packages potato gnocchi (about 4 cups)
- 6 slices bacon (my mom doubled ingredient)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 oz. fresh baby spinach (my mom doubled this ingredient)
- Place the chicken, vegetables, seasonings, salt, and broth in a crockpot or slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.
- Add the cornstarch mixture, milk and cream, and gnocchi. Stir and replace cover. Cook another 45 minutes to 1 hour until the soup has thickened and the gnocchi has softened.
- While the soup is thickening, cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crispy. Drain on paper towels and wipe most of the bacon grease out of the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat. Add the bacon and spinach to the crockpot. Stir to combine.
- The soup thickens considerably; add extra liquid (cream, milk or water) as needed to get desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.