After an awesome but very busy week with my in-laws, it was bound to happen.  We let our guard down for only a few days and – BAM! – both of us awoke to a cold.  While I shouldn’t complain since it is my first cold of the year, I’m going to anyways, because 2011 was a rough year in the cold department.

Last year was our first year of living at elevation (Jackson is 6,800 feet and Boulder is 5,400 feet) and this someone made me susceptible to sinus infections. Five of them. Each one was brutal; filled with screaming headaches and ending with a package of Mucinex and a round of antibiotics.

So, when I awoke last week with the sniffles and my ears started closing, I knew what my destiny (for the rest of March) held.  Determined to figure out a way to beat the cold I turned to a Neti Pot and soup.

When my pharmacist recommended a Neti Pot to me, I thought he had teamed up with the Sky Mall Catalog.  Neti Pots might be the Snuggie of sinus infections, but boy do they work! Regular Neti-Potting coupled with this soup and in just a few days I awoke to no pressure, clear ears, and a perfectly happy throat.

Make sure not to skimp on the herb oil!  The soup on its own is bland, but mixed with the herb oil and it takes on an entire new flavor.

Chicken Bean Soup with Herb Oil adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 6

You will need:
~ 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 tbsp sage, minced
~ 2 tbsp rosemary, minced
~ 2 tbsp thyme, minced
~ 1 lb chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
~ 1 onion, diced
~ 2 carrots, diced
~ 2 celery stalks, diced
~ ¼ cup tomato paste
~ 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth
~ 2 15 ounce cans Cannellini beans
~ ½ cup celery leaves
~ 1 bay leaf
~ Salt and pepper

In a small sauté pan, heat 6 tbsp oil and herbs over medium heat.  Let cook for a few minutes until you can smell the herbs.  Set aside and let cool.

In a dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat.  Add chicken, sprinkling with salt and pepper.  Sauté chicken until cooked (about 5 to 7 minutes).  Remove chicken and add onion, carrots, and celery (and more oil if needed).  Let vegetables brown for about 15 minutes.

Add tomato paste, broth, beans, celery leaves, and bay leaf to soup.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Return chicken to the soup and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Season soup with salt and pepper.

To serve, swirl in about 1 tbsp of oil into each individual soup.  Enjoy and get better!