So far this winter i’ve gotten sick 3 times (maybe because its snowed 3 million times).  One was a really bad head cold (to the rescue: Neti Pot!)  One was a 24-hour stomach bug (my hero:  Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew)  One was just a really bad cold (old faithful:  Wellness Formula).

For all of them, I’ve made the standard chicken soup, but this winter I did it with a twist- instead of noodles (which get uber-soggy in ten minutes), I have been adding OAT GROATS instead, and it works wonderfully. The groats stay chewy (for up to 2 days) and a bit nutty, and if I didn’t tell you it was oats you might think they were little bits of pasta that magically stayed al dente in soups.

The inspiration came from Tonette who I reconnected with in San Francisco.  Tonette was one of my first yoga teachers at Starseed and we bonded over fashion, food, and dogs.  A few years ago she moved out West, so she knew exactly where to take me for an afternoon.  We walked though Ferry Terminal Market, and I really started to fall in love with San Fran, through the produce vendors and the food carts.  Cowgirl Creamery!  Five different flavored milks!  Three-thousand types of mushrooms!  Slanted Door Take-Away!  We ended up eating Korean tacos and Kimchi fried rice in the sunshine, waterside, overlooking a bridge with a one-woman accordion show next to us singing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.

After, we went to her charming house on a hill, (backyard garden, with herbs… thriving in November!  Hmmm, I suppose all homes in San Fran are on a hill.  Anyway…) where she showed me the renovations they were doing and offered me some Oatmeal Soup.

Oatmeal Soup???

“My mother in law showed me how to make it, it’s super-easy and comforting, and I make it all the time now.”

So I tried it, and yes, it was super-comforting, simple and plain.  Kind of like congee.  If you like congee, you’ll love this stuff.

You make it by shredding a carrot or two, sauteing it in some butter or olive oil, and then adding 1/2 c. of old-fashioned oats, toasting the oats in the pan with the sauteed carrots over medium heat.  Add 2 cups of your favorite chicken stock, and lower heat to simmer for 20 mins., stirring occasionally.  Taste and add more stock if necessary, adjust salt and pepper.  Before serving add some freshly-chopped parsley.

Since I’ve gotten sick so much, I make a simple version of chicken soup with whatever’s in the house.  Usually I saute some chopped carrots, celery, and onion (mirepoix)… add some chopped ginger, and then the oat groats. I’ll add a ton of chicken stock (sick people need lots of liquids!), and then some pre-cooked chicken if I have it.  Simmer for 20 minutes, add parsley and voila!  Comfort and texture in a bowl.