It’s flu season. In spite of the fact that flu shots have been advertised aggressively, and presumably administered liberally, the reports of yet another friend or family member down with this year’s strain keep coming in.
Now I’m not Jewish, but I have long known that one of the best remedies for what ails you – especially if you happen to have the flu – is a good old-fashioned dose of JP. To the uninitiated, that’s ‘Jewish Penicillin’, aka Chicken Soup. When you’re sniffly and achy, nothing feels better going down. In fact, researchers say that chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory and temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, relieving congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with your nose’s lining. And most importantly, drinking chicken soup can help prevent de-hydration.
With that in mind, I set out to find an excellent chicken soup to feed my sick husband. He was shivering so badly I didn’t have the time it would take to lovingly simmer some chicken bones with aromatics to produce a flavorful and satisfying broth. I needed soup, and I needed it fast. His symptoms have lasted longer than I’d anticipated, so over the course of a few days, I have had the opportunity to call on three different Boulder restaurants to help me out.
Black Pepper Pho, the Vietnamese restaurant at 28th and Pearl, served up a generous portion of rice noodles in veggie broth. Pieces of white chicken, bean sprouts, mint and basil came on the side, along with a few slices of jalapenos and a lime for squeezing. The soup, while technically not chicken soup because of the veggie broth, was good, but lacked the deep, rich backbone I was searching for in my quest for healing.
Zo Ma Ma, a Taiwanese street food eatery at 10th and Pearl, produced a steaming bowl of chicken broth laden with rice noodles, chicken and garnished with scallions and cilantro. I added some of their house-made spicy sauces to induce a sweat, and the bowl came back clean.
But it was the Chicken Pho from Pho Basil, a Chinese restaurant on 28th Street just south of Iris, that had the standout version of this soup. It came with the usual Pho accoutrements, but it was the rich chicken broth that set it apart. Deeply flavored and thoroughly satisfying, it was delicious enough to drink all on its own. I called back and ordered 2 more portions for the patient and, of course, me!
As I’m writing this, I’ve heard the fridge door open, and the familiar sound of a quart container opening. Obviously, it’s time for another helping of chicken soup. And even though it’s a Chinese version of a traditional Vietnamese soup, the cooks over at Pho Basil clearly know how to make a mean bowl of JP.