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Maya’s Soup

As soon as any vacations begin, I immediately start stressing that it will be over soon. Despite the fact that we’ve got this entire week off, and that it’s only Tuesday and the office isn’t even open, so risk of anyone needing anything is utterly moot, I manage to tap the stress.

Maybe it’s the post traumatic stress of Remy being attacked by a porcupine last week (It was freaky. She is fine). Maybe it has to do with the bed frame delivery that a certain company screwed up (revealing its name is dependent on whether they find a way to actually deliver it this week, as promised. Yes, I am that childish). It could also be the guilt I’m feeling at not bringing Remy to her dog therapy visits at the hospital…

Whatever the trigger, it has granted me the holiday gift of a little cold. My chest hurts, my throat is kind of sore and all I want to do is sleep. But Luke, Astrid and her boyfriend Eli arrived last night, so being in bed would result in a serious case of FOMO.


The view from my sick bed.

Hence, I’m making Maya’s magic soup. Maya, Bertrand’s sister who lives in San Francisco, made this soup for us when we showed up at her place, in October, both of us fighting icky colds.  “I think it’s the tumeric,” she commented as she stirred the pot, which wafted cumin, ginger, cilantro and parsley as well. “After that awful Thanksgiving, I finally made it when I could get out of bed!” she laughed.


Maya’s soup. My version at end of post. Her’s is chicer looking, isn’t it?

She’s referring to a few years back, when she and her husband Chris had decided not to head back East for the holiday but to stay in town and have friends over instead. They’d bought a huge turkey for the occasion, then promptly came down with the flu. All of them.

With leftovers for days, not to mention a flu to mend, she found this: Ever since she served it to us, it’s been on my list. Snow on the ground and a tickle in my throat said Today is the day!

Soup is a twofold gift: not only does it warm and coddle you, it’s usually easy to make, which is appreciated when you’re half asleep and have limited energy in your kitchen. This one is no exception, and I managed to maintain my fraudulence twice. First, it calls for leftover turkey. Since our only leftover meat was roast beef (gross), we opted to use some freshly bought chicken breast, which I boiled instead of fried up or grilled. Boiling keeps the chicken nice and soft. Then, instead of cutting it up, I shredded it with my fingers to uphold the softness in each bite. Second, I have this bad habit of misreading labels. I also have this bad, if not sacrilege habit of storing all of our bagged up spices in one jar, so the cardamom smells like Spanish paprika and the dried fennel co-mingles with the rosemary. And, if you’re not careful, you confuse the tiny packet of cinnamon for cumin.


Our version of a spice rack.

Suffice to say, this soup now has an extra ingredient, and that cinnamon actually adds a cozy touch. I also doubled the amount of barley because I’m a big fan of solid soup, but the broth basically disappeared, so I suggest maybe adding 50% of the barley instead of 100%.


Bertrand and Luke are out on a hike with Remy now. As muchas I hate missing out (the “M.O.” of “FOMO”), I’m heading to another hot bath instead. Besides, there are plenty more days of hiking. It’s only Tuesday!




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Jane was executive beauty director at W Magazine for 16 years. When she is not writing beauty articles, she's likely either hiking with her husband and dog, Remy, or in her kitchen, frauding (new verb) her way around a fancy recipe, a home decoration or a highbrow dinner party conversation of which she knows nothing about. In other words, she nods a lot and googles a lot later.

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