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Curling up with Chicken Soup and Kathleen Flinn’s Book “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry”

The least-well-received “present” that I got during the holidays was a cold bug from one of my nephews.  As much as I loved playing with the active little guy and holding his newborn brother, I really didn’t need an extra special gift from them to take home with me to New York.  Fortunately, I could sit on the couch for a few days and wrap myself up in Kathleen Flinn’s book about her adventures in culinary school, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry,* as I nursed my way through stuffed-up sinuses and a hacking cough.

This story about surviving job loss, pursuing long-held dreams, living in Paris, and finding love, was the perfect antidote for my illness.  Each chapter tells a piece of the tale of Flinn’s trip from mid-level corporate worker to graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school, the same one that Julia Child attended.  She ends every installment of her journey with a recipe based upon some of what she learned in the program or in life.  I have to say that these dishes sounded delicious and were tempting me, even in my cold-medicine-induced haze to try to reproduce them.

Flinn also talks about the time she had la grippe or the flu when she was in Paris.  Having been sick far away from home, in another country, with a language barrier to boot, I can imagine just how miserable she felt.  I’ve been there.  There’s the challenge of trying to figure out how to explain what ails you, sorting out what you can get over the counter to cure the aches and pains, and conjuring up how to comfort yourself in an unfamiliar place.  For some relief, Flinn whips up a batch of Potage de Poulet aux Nouille, avec de l’Ail et des Herbes, or that childhood sickday staple more commonly known as Chicken Noodle Soup.  Looking for something to chase away my own symptoms, I decided this might just be the trick.  The rich, steaming broth studded with meat and sprinkled with vegetables and herbs opened up my nasal passages and soothed my sore throat.  In any language, the remedy for a cold remains the same.

Browning chicken for soup

Cooking the carrots, celery, onions, garlic

Adding stock and herbs to the pot – I didn’t make a bouquet garni, and I omitted the Herbes de Provence

Broth simmering away

Which gives me time to shred the chicken - I also took out the herbs at this point

Putting chicken and broth together - I opted not to add noodles

A bowl of warm, comforting chicken soup

Buon appetito!