Soup for a Hangover

September 14, 2010

(Note:  After I wrote about a corn pudding in my post about the Chard Tart, I got some email asking when I would be sharing that recipe.  It’s up now at Amazon Fresh.  Go check it out – it’s a new favorite!  Depending on when you read this, you may have to scroll down a bit on that page.)

Sometimes I have these moments when writing posts for my blog when I wonder, “Am I revealing too much here?”  A while ago, I wrote a post which included a story about drinking too much.  And here I am again with a suggestion for good food to eat when you have a hangover.  My last post was about the mixed emotions I have about my kids growing up and now a recipe that came after a night of overindulging.  Is that weird?

I know a lot of wonderful women, some mothers and some not, who love their beer/wine/cocktails.  I’m guessing if you stop by here often and have come to know a little about who I am, the fact that I love a good glass of wine or three will not be surprising to you.  Because I am vegetarian, because I really sincerely like healthy food, because I am in shape, and because I have a dedicated yoga practice, some people might assume that all I drink is vitamin water and freshly brewed tea.  But that is not the case.

Last Sunday night, I probably would have been fine if I had alternated vitamin water or freshly brewed tea with the I-lost-count-of-how-many-bottles of wine we had at our dinner party.  But I did not and I woke up feeling, um, not great.  I have kids who are really good sleepers but if there is one thing I can count on, it is that if I need them to sleep in a bit, they will wake up earlier than usual.  And then, they will need to be entertained.  And fed.  The nerve.

In this particular instance, Randy was worse off than I was, so I took the boys out of the house and attempted to run them in the rain.  This is a pretty standard activity for a weekend day but in this case, I was also trying to insure that they would take a nap.  As I revealed in my last drinking post, I tend to feel worse as the day wears on.  Last Monday was no exception.  I took comfort in the fact that I didn’t have to cook that night and could just lie still for a few hours while the boys napped.

But I happened to pick up my already much-loved copy of Plenty while on my back and without searching found this recipe for Tomato, Semolina, and Cilantro Soup.  Like most people, what I want to eat when I have a hangover is a huge plate of greasy eggs and hashbrowns.  With a side of Tabasco.  At the same time, when I have a hangover, I feel -well, puffy.  I want grease but I need something really healthy and light.  In this instance, because I felt particularly bad, I wanted something comforting.  I also wanted something to show for myself after wasting a perfectly good holiday (Labor Day) doing basically nothing.

I had everything on hand for this soup and it came together beautifully.  Now, to keep it from essentially tasting like savory Cream of Wheat (not that there is anything wrong with that), I added some texture with some small cooked pasta that I had in my refrigerator.  I prefer something to chew on in my soup so I loved the noodles in there.  I also thought chickpeas would be a great addition but opted to keep it simple and close to the original recipe.  The soup thickens as it sits so you will want to thin it with some water if you make it in advance.  I would also recommend seasoning repeatedly throughout the process because it needs a lot of salt.  After eating this soup and a salad for dinner and a good night’s sleep, I felt like a new person the next day.

One Year Ago: Nectarine and Mascarpone Tart in Gingersnap Crust
Two Years Ago: Chantarelle and Corn Risotto with Fresh Thyme and Basil

Tomato, Semolina, and Cilantro Soup
Adapted from Plenty
Serves 4-6

Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1½ tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
6 cups water, plus more for thinning if necessary
1½ tbsp. sugar
1 cup semolina
1 cup cooked pasta
Juice of 1 lemon
Greek yogurt (for garnish)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Put a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom and then add the onion and celery along with a good pinch of salt.  Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the coriander, cumin, paprika, thyme, and half the cilantro.  Sauté until the onion is golden and soft and the mixture is very fragrant, about another 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, another pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and the tomatoes; cook for another minute.  Pour in the water and sprinkle in the sugar and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Next, add the semolina to the simmering soup in a slow steady stream as you whisk vigorously.  Keep on cooking for 10 minutes whisking occasionally to avoid lumps.  Add the pasta and squeeze in the lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Before serving, add more water if the soup is too thick for your liking.  Ladle into bowls and spoon yogurt on top.  Garnish with the remaining cilantro.


  1. This soup looks good for any day! I love your personal stories. Keep em coming:)

    Comment by Maria — September 14, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  2. Fantastic looking soup! I absolutely love the Plenty cookbook, one of my all time favorites. So many pages are splattered with food and dogeared.

    Here, here with the wine! This is one omnivore that likes a glass or a bottle..

    Comment by matt — September 14, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  3. If there’s one thing that med students love to do. It’s drink. And drink. And drink. And drink. as such, hangover food comes in handy quite often around here. This looks perfect. All of my favorite flavors but light and refreshing for that morning after bloat we all know and love.

    Comment by Joanne — September 14, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  4. Loved this post…

    I haven’t had a hangover in a while now (knock on wood), but have had my share and mine are (as I mentioned before in a comment) exactly as yours: worse and worse as the hours go by

    I am saving the soup recipe – not necessarily for a hangover, but because it seems tasty tasty tasty!

    Comment by SallyBR — September 14, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  5. That looks delicious! I’d say it’s a good winter warmer as well as hangover medicine :)

    Comment by Kerry — September 14, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  6. This looks so delicious! And I love your stories! It gives me hope that one day I will be neither pregnant nor nursing and therefore could actually drink more than a half glass of wine in one sitting again!

    Comment by Emily Rose — September 14, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

  7. I think you work hard and deserve a healthy dose of wine every now and then. Frankly, I’m delighted to hear that a mommy as healthy and devoted to yoga as you likes wine. You’re human!

    Oh, and the soup? Delightful, as always. Looks like a lovely cure for just about anything. xo

    Comment by redmenace — September 14, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

  8. I could have used this too after this sat and girl’s night catching up with my friends ;) I just got the Plenty cookbook & am so excited to jump into it!

    Comment by fresh365 — September 14, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

  9. I’m having some friends over for wine Friday night…might need to have some of this in the fridge for Saturday now :)

    Comment by Maris — September 14, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

  10. It’s tough to know where to draw the line in sharing personal info on-line.. There will alaways be someone who will disapprove of your lifestyle. You’re 100% woman, which means that you are multi-faceted. Personally, I enjoy a woman who has a full life including having a drink or three. :)

    Comment by Eric — September 15, 2010 @ 1:25 am

  11. I LOVE Yotom Ottolenghi. Literally cannot wait to get that book on my hands! Do you read his column for the Guardian? I’m obsessed :)

    By the way, pretty sure you have the most balanced and healthy hangover food in the world. I am much more likely to hunt down the greasiest, most gigantic breakfast sandwich of all time and devour that instead…bravo!

    Comment by Angharad — September 15, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

  12. I couldn’t figure out how to comment on the Amazon Fresh blog – thanks for the souffle recipe, Dana! Although the best of the corn is certainly over here, I am still going to try it this week.

    Comment by Hilary — September 16, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  13. I think this soup looks lovely… hangover or not! :) I’m a big fan of cilantro.

    Comment by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — September 17, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  14. What an interesting soup! I’ve never seen one like it with semolina like that. I admire you for sharing so much of yourself on your blog. I’m not so brave!

    Comment by Ashley — October 1, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

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