I have the sniffles again. Despite frequent hand washing and sneezing into the crooks of our arms, catching the common cold can seem unavoidable. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold – all we have is supportive care. Besides throat lozenges and cough suppressants, NSAIDS for aches and pains, and nasal sprays for stuffiness, in my opinion, the best component of supportive care is soup. Warm soup sits easy on the stomach and provides fluids and electrolytes (potassium, sodium, etc.) when our bodies get dehydrated from low intake and fevers.
Besides homemade soup, there are three soups that can be found locally that I seek out when I am stricken by a cold. The first is a no brainer for me but may be unexpected to others: the chicken noodle soup from the MUSC Cafeteria. I have eaten approximately 33.3% of my meals there since 2001 and while it is a hospital cafeteria, it is just fine. Several times a week, chicken noodle soup is offered. Curly egg noodles, diced carrots and celery, and white meat chicken swim in a savory broth. For under $2 a bowl, it is a steal.
The next soup that I see out is the tonkotsu ramen from Menkoi Ramen House on George Street. If you have never tried authentic Japanese Ramen, Menkoi finally offers a great rendition here in Charleston. Traditional ramen is a bowl of bouncy noodles in hot, savory broth with various toppings (pork, soft boiled egg, corn, bamboo shoots, etc). I have frequented this ramanya since they opened and they are perfecting the broth. The soup is milky, hot and slippery, with great depth from slow simmered pork bones. If you are a vegetarian, the miso and salt broths are luscious as well. For the brave (or stuffed up invalids with dormant taste buds) all of the soups can be prepared spicy.
The final soup for soothing a cold is Pho. Pho is traditional Vietnamese noodle soup with an aromatic broth that is simmered for many hours. The spices in pho will awaken your senses, especially when they are dulled by a cold. Phuong Vietnamese Restaurant on Rivers Avenue has one of the most delicious bowls of pho I have ever had. The broth is clear, with a shimmer of fat floating on the top. It tastes of cloves, coriander, and star anise. The rice noodles at the bottom are filling and the thinly sliced beef on top is super tender. Served with a plate of fresh bean sprouts, sliced limes, basil and cilantro, the soup can be dressed up to your liking. This hot herbal concoction can ease the worst cold symptoms.
In summary, step up your hygene this cold season and if you do catch a bug, treat yourself to supportive care and savory soup.
Be well Charleston ~ Dr. Jay
171 Ashley Ave
Charleston, SC 29425