Desperation dinners: Chicken soup for allergic soul

Spring has sprung and summer is almost here, but the sniffles are in full force. Pollen coats the cars, windows and porches, and the news reports give an allergy count every morning. Allergy season is here, and for those who suffer, it won't be gone until fall. What does this have to do with food? Well, even if someone at your house can't taste a thing because of the stuffy-nose season, they still have to eat.

Today's recipe is a "make you feel better about life" recipe. It's also a "breakthrough the sniffles" remedy, and it's ready in only 30 minutes.

In 1993, University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher Dr. Stephen Rennard published findings stating that there is scientific validity to chicken soup reducing cold symptoms.

In his research study, Rennard found that chicken soup may contain a number of substances, including an anti-inflammatory mechanism that could ease the symptoms of upper-respiratory-tract infections.

So it's not just the warm, comforting effects of sipping soup when you're stuffy: It's scientifically proven to make you feel better.

Our Gingered Chicken and Rice Soup is a perfect blend of chicken, carrots and rice, and spiced just right with ginger and garlic. We even go a step further to give it a velvety finish by stirring in an egg wash at the very end of cooking.

This is no ordinary chicken soup. Serve this miracle soup with simple toasted wheat bread and sliced apples (or applesauce for the young or young at heart). Sometimes food is just about making someone feel better.

Gingered Chicken and Rice Soup

4 servings

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, 6 to 8 ounces

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped onions

6 cups water

1/2 cup long-grain rice

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 egg

2 tablespoons 1 percent milk

Directions

Place the chicken breast, carrots, onions and water in a 4 1/2-quart or larger soup pot. Cover and heat to a boil over high heat, and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is mostly cooked through. Reduce heat to medium, remove the chicken breast to a plate, and then add the rice, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Dice the chicken, and return to the pot. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook for 15 more minutes or until the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, stir together the egg and milk until well-blended.

Uncover the soup, and drizzle the egg mixture evenly over soup. Stir well to blend and thicken soup, and serve.

Approximate values per serving: 190 calories (13 percent from fat), 3g fat (1g saturated), 80mg cholesterol, 14g protein, 27g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, 363mg sodium.

Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact them at Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016, or send email to tellus@kitchenscoop.com. Or visit the Desperation Dinners website.