Medicinal Soup (AKA Garlic Soup)

I started feeling sick on Monday, and foolishly attributed this to ragweed making a late season play against my general well-being. Tuesday, I realized how terribly wrong I was, but mostly just tried to suck this up with lots of fluids and broth, as well as various lozenges. By Tuesday night, I was sick enough that I realized I had gotten some kind of upper respiratory infection and couldn't breathe well enough to sleep without treating it properly. So I made some poultices and teas and drowned myself in them, then finally fell out. Wednesday, woke up quite a bit better, but the Pig was coughing. Turns out I'd passed the pestilence onto her. Since at 5, she's never been ill with normal stuff we're all used to, I figured I'd better nip it quickly and started drowning us both in tisanes, broth, elderberry syrup, and other such. Today, she was better, save a slight residual cough. I'm mostly better.

It occurred to me at some point, though, that I lack the mental wherewithal to go through another day of this, even the possibility of another day with a sick kid, and was worried that Ross might also become ill (and as such, unable to go to work). So I spent some time crafting a soup that was basically meant to be good tasting medicine. Literally every ingredient was selected primarily for its medicinal qualities (with some stuff added in to help me out with the arthritis Houston humidity is unkind to), and secondarily with respect to flavor combinations. The only thing I wanted to add that I couldn't justify ruining the flavor of the soup with was elderberries. But there's syrup and jelly for that, and we're swimming in both since this year's harvest was great.

Anyway, I took notes just in case we liked this, and when I told Ross I'd done so, he said, "good. That one deserves to be written down." So I figured I'd share it with y'all. There are ingredients here that you'd likely struggle to find if you aren't the same kind of strange gardener I am or a forager, but please substitute as needed. I've put recommendations for substitutions in the tougher ingredients, and links where another recipe is involved. Hope you enjoy!

1 piece of cross-cut beef shank (about a pound)
1 whole jalapeño (slit open a bit, if desired)
1 piece lemongrass
1/2" fresh ginger
2 stems' worth of purslane (sub: 2 teaspoons marshmallow root or 1 piece of okra; alternately just omit)
1 small sprig basil (I used Genovese, but I can't think of a basil that wouldn't work fine here)
1 small sprig (8 mature leaves) Cuban oregano (I can't find a store that sells this outside whole plants, but you can sub in 1 tablespoon of dried Greek or Mexican oregano, or 2 tablespoons of marjoram)
1 small sprig sage (I used a native species, but use whatever's in your kitchen already)
salt, white and black pepper
1 small (~1.5-2") piece fresh turmeric
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon nigella seeds

large knob of butter
1/2 cup or so of ukha kraut (sub: scant half cup of shredded green cabbage plus the rest in fresh or dried leek)
couple tablespoons olive oil
1/2 or so of a roma tomato, chopped
1 large tomatillo (average tomato size), chopped
1/4 of a red bell pepper, minced
1 packed cup of finely chopped mixed greens (I used a mix of broadleaf plantain, hosta, and dandelion)
salt and either/both peppers as needed
juice of a large lime

meat from shank
2 large heads of garlic, peeled but left whole
reserved stock

In a two quart saucepan/pot, combine the first group of ingredients, with water to fill to close to the top. Don't be like me and forget to put all the seeds and such in a teaball or muslin so you don't have to pick them off the meat later when all you actually want to do is die. Simmer or boil until the shank is soft (this will take some time) and the marrow has fallen out. If you have stuff other than being sick to do, do this in a crock pot. Once the meat is breaking up and you can grab the bone with tons to remove, strain the whole mess and throw the garlic cloves in whatever's holding all that stock. Wash out your pot, then stick it on the stove on medium with the butter. While that's going on, pull all the fat and connective tissue off the meat, and set it in the stock.

Once your butter is melted, add the kraut, with salt and (ideally freshly cracked) black pepper.


It's really important to season as you go. Don't withhold the salt until the stock goes in, or put it all in right away. Sprinkle some salt in with each addition, unless the addition is already salty (lookin' at you, kraut). Toss some pepper on that bad boy. Build the flavors in layers instead of letting them do whatever you want.

Fry the kraut in the butter, letting it rest periodically to get some crispy edges. Once it's browned, add some oil, if needed (should be needed), the tomato, tomatillo, and bell pepper. Fry all that up, too. Once the tomatillo starts to dissolve, add greens and lime. Let all of it cook down into mush. Then add bowl of stock and such, plus some salt and pepper.

Simmer until the garlic is soft. Serves 4.

Lastly, this was the most bizarre set of notes I've ever had to transcribe into meaningful words.


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