Eleanor was sick over the weekend, her usual cough and fever. I spent last week mightily focused on work, responding to the parents who reached out to me and honing writing ideas. Perhaps I needed a biological cue to ground me.
Watching over a sick child is one of the most instinctual of tasks. I press my palm to Eleanor’s clammy forehead to check for fever. I hold the cup of water to her chapped lips in the middle of the night, one more parent in a strand of millions stretching through the years.
By last night, Eleanor had mostly recovered. I’m always amazed to watch her recover from an illness. When she was a baby, the only difference between sickness and health was a runny nose and a few tears. When she is sick now, she reverts to infancy. Words are lost. She whines in mangled syllables that no human could recognize. She becomes lethargic, her limbs dangling when we carry her up the stairs.
A day later, she begins to eat again. I am stunned when she speaks in complete sentences. Three years have passed in twelve hours. I love her the most on these days, when her eagerness to throw pretend parties and go on pretend camping trips feels enchanting again. It is enchanting, but sometimes the day-to-day exhaustion makes me forget.
And the surest sign of all that she felt better? She asked for broccoli soup, her favorite meal. She once turned down a stack of syrup-doused pancakes in favor of this soup — for breakfast. It does warm the belly, making those cold winter days a little easier to bear.
Broccoli cheddar soup via Eat Live Run
2 T. butter
1 medium sized bunch broccoli, chopped
1 russet potato
1 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4th t. cayenne
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 T. flour
3/4 cup whole milk
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Cook the broccoli for about 30 seconds in a pot of boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Peel and dice the potato. Melt the butter in a large pot, and add the potato and onion, cooking until the onion softens, about six minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then the mustard, cayenne, and salt. Stir.
Stir in the flour. Pour in the broth and broccoli and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the milk and cheese, and stir until the cheese melts. Pour the soup into a blender and mix until it is just a bit chunky. Garnish with green onions or crumbled bacon if you’re feeing fancy.