Monday, 26 November 2012

The Mucous Man

I awoke on the morning of the show's opening with an unexpected pain in my throat. Uh-oh, thought I. Then I found my nose was stuffy and I had a pounding headache. I had slept terribly. On Friday morning, I deemed myself sick.

Better than going to the doctor!
What's an actor to do? Well, if you're fortunate enough to have an understudy, then call in, by all means. But this was opening. I wasn't about to have someone else go on for me for opening. (Besides, I didn't have an understudy, per se, though I knew someone in the cast could and would cover my part, the ghost of Marley in A Christmas Carol, if need be.) I could speak clearly, move around fluidly (though somewhat shakily—actor problem, character problem: suddenly I discover my character has trouble balancing surrounded by all those chains. Done.) I wasn't in dire need of medical attention. I felt I could go on without sacrificing the show or letting down the cast in any way. In other words, I felt I could give at least as good of a show as I was capable of when in perfect health.

After a weekend of that, we get to Monday. Today. I have the day off. And I am determined to get rid of this cold. This is the soup that will make it all possible.

Chunky Tomato "Get Well" Soup

Serves 8. Prep time: 20 min. Cook time: 35 min.

Use a paring knife to rid tomatoes of their seeds.
A spoon works, too.
In a large pot, drop 1 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. unsalted butter. Turn the heat on to medium. When the butter melts, stir in 1 large chopped onion, 2 chopped ribs of celery, 2 chopped Anaheim peppers (or 1 chopped bell pepper), and a pinch of salt. Cook until onion is slightly translucent, 5-7 min. Stir in 5 chopped cloves of garlic. Cook until onion is completely translucent, 2-3 min. Stir in 1 tbsp. thyme, 1 min. Deglaze with ½ c. dry white wine. Add to the pot 3 de-seeded & diced roma tomatoes, 28 oz. crushed tomato, 1 tbsp. honey (local!), 2 c. vegetable broth, and 2 bay leaves. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil; then simmer on low heat for 20 min. In the meantime, grind together the spice mixture: 4 tsp. thyme (dried), 1 tbsp. rosemary (dried), 1 tsp. tarragon (dried), ½ tsp. cardamom seed, ½ tsp. coriander seed, ½ tsp. yellow mustard seed, and ¼ tsp. black pepper. After the 20 minutes are up, turn off the heat and fish out the two bay leaves to discard them. Stir in the spice mixture as well as ¼ tsp. salt, 6-7 minced fresh basil leaves, and a dash of ground cayenne. (If you prefer smooth soup, here is where you would puree the whole thing in a blender. For extra smoothness, run the whole thing through a sieve.) Finally, stir in ⅔ c. heavy cream and return the soup to medium heat for 3-5 min., taking care not to bring to a boil. Season additionally to taste. (Note: If you have a cold, you may not be able to taste as well as someone who is well. Have them double-check before you over-season. Better still: Have them make this soup for you!)

Incidentally, you can make this soup vegan-friendly by replacing the butter with more olive oil and skipping the honey and cream.

I'll be honest, I feel better already! I hope it works for you, too.

Why these ingredients?

Here's a brief summary of the research I did to put this soup together, finding ingredients that support the immune system in some way. Whether these ingredients actually have these properties or not is up for some debate; I figured it couldn't hurt to include anything that might help.

Powerful thing, that onion!
Olive oil: antioxidant
Butter: vitamin A, several B vitamins, antioxidant
Onion: antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, decongestant
Celery: vitamin C
Peppers: vitamin A, vitamin C
Salt: regulates hydration
Garlic: antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, decongestant
Thyme: antiseptic
Wine: antioxidant
Tomatoes: vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidant
Honey: antiseptic
Bay leaves: digestive
Broth: combined effects from several vegetables
Basil: digestive
Cayenne powder: antiseptic, digestive
Rosemary: relieves headaches and respiratory problems
Tarragon: digestive, soothes sore throats, promotes restful sleep
Cardamom: antiviral, antibacterial, decongestant
Coriander: digestive, antibacterial
Mustard: antiviral, antibacterial, detoxifier
Black pepper: decongestant, antioxidant
Cream: vitamin A, several B vitamins, antioxidant, zinc

(Source: Graimes, Nicola, ed. Vegetarian & Wholefoods Bible. London: Southwater, 2009.)

The Music Man is (naturally) a musical by Meredith Willson. Premiered at the Majestic Theatre in New York City on 19 December 1957, starring Robert Preston and Barbara Cook.


  1. Kev the soup looks good. You can add some oregano oil which is great for a cold it is an antioxidant,and anti inflammatory according to herbalist.

  2. I revisited this blog today. It's soooooo good!!! I am making Johnny Cakes ala Kev today. WIsh this would continue every once in awhile.

    1. Better late than never! Thanks, Suzanne! Hope you're liking the new entries! :)