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Hugs for Comfort (Recipe: Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup)

I know I have mentioned this before, but my seven year old is a great kid. He is extremely well behaved at school, he is a nice friend, and he has such a kind heart. There is one thing about Jacob that does not fit his normal personality, and that is that once every 1 to 2 weeks, Jacob has a major emotional breakdown at home. Usually he is set off by something small but his reaction to whatever set him off is off the charts. He cries uncontrollably, screams, and reacts in a manner that is completely unlike him. These meltdowns will last for quite a long time once they start, sometimes up to an hour, and we are typically unsuccessful at getting him to calm down.

Tonight was Jacob’s meltdown night. He wanted to take a bath instead of a shower and completely lost it when my husband said that he had to take a shower. He lost it with a capital L, in a extreme way. He screamed and he cried and like always, nothing we tried would calm him down.

As you can imagine, when Jacob gets this way, my husband and I are on the verge of losing it ourselves. As the crying gets louder, our nerves get more and more shot. Typically we just leave him alone in his room and let him calm down on his own. Tonight, though, I decided to try something that I learned from Grey’s Anatomy, of all places.  Did any of you catch the episode towards the beginning of the season where Dr Yang and Dr Bailey were instructed by Dr Dixon (the character with Aspergers) to hug from the side to her to help calm her nervous system down? Apparently it is related to a technique called “Brushing” and it is supposed to work at making people calm. (You can watch the hugging scene from Grey’s Anatomy on YouTube here).

I walked in by Jacob in the heat of his meltdown, got down on my knees and held him from the side tightly. I spoke softly to him and within two minutes at the most, Jacob’s breathing was back to normal, his tears had stopped and he was calm. Just like that, his major meltdown ceased and he became completely cooperative again. Another benefit of this is that it calmed me down too! I tuned out his crying and just concentrated on keeping my voice soft and calming him down. I almost cannot wait for him to have another meltdown just to see if this technique works again!

It is amazing to me how the simple act of touch can work to completely change someone elses behavior. That feeling of comfort… of having someone hold you to soothe you is indeed remarkable.

The soup we had tonight did not calm Jacob down (it may have if I would have served it during the meltdown), but to me, a cup of soup is like a hug in a bowl. There is something about sitting down to the warm steam rising off the bowl, taking your first bite and having your whole body warmed by the contents that provides immediate comfort. This may not be the kind of hug that works to eliminate meltdowns, but you may want to be careful… running out of this soup may result in the kind of meltdown’s from your family that will require you to provide physical hugs for comfort. It is that good!

Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup (Cooking Light, March 2009)

Cooking spray
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup presliced mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons butter
1.1 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
4 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
4 ounces uncooked vermicelli, broken into 2-inch pieces
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light)
4 cups (1-inch) cubed cooked chicken breast
3 cups small broccoli florets (8 ounces)
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; add butter to mushroom mixture, stirring until butter melts. Sprinkle mushroom mixture with flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually add milk and broth, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 10 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Add pasta to pan; cook 10 minutes. Add cheese to pan, and stir until cheese melts. Add chicken and remaining ingredients to pan; cook 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender and soup is thoroughly heated.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

CALORIES 317 ; FAT 12.3g (sat 6.8g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.9g); CHOLESTEROL 74mg; CALCIUM 179mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.8g; SODIUM 723mg; PROTEIN 27.5g; FIBER 1.9g; IRON 1.6mg

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  1. The soup looks awesome!

    As for the meltdowns – Katie, my 7 year-old ASD child has been losing it lately, too – very badly. I was just brushing her arms tonight (don’t have the brush yet, I used my hands) to calm her down and it worked like a charm. It was like watching a dog chill out when you stroke his nose or roll over if you stroke his belly. Very funny. It took her SO long to get to bed, though. I completely understand!

  2. “A hug in a bowl” I love that! Your soup does look like a big, comfortable hug. That photo is great.

    My 6 yr-old nephews are both on the autism spectrum and the brushing technique and side hugs really help them when they can’t calm down.

    Your Jacob sounds like a very sensitive little guy. My daughter was like that too. I believe that they’re the ones who grow up to be the most caring and nurturing adults.

    Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewys last blog post..POMegranate Glazed Pork Tenderloin

  3. Raising children is certainly the hardest job in the world! Trying to figure out how to treat them at times like this is difficult, to say the least. I hope the hugs continue to instill calmness in you and your sons life.
    And I agree, a bowl of soup is like a warm, comforting hug! And this soup sounds delicious!

    Lyndas last blog post..Sesame Pork Chops

  4. oh that looks SO delish! do you mind if i add you to my blogspot? i love the photos :)

    Pearls last blog post..The Fatal Fruit

  5. That’s pretty incredible…way to be a resourceful parent! Jacob’s lucky to have your hugs and your soup :)

    Amy I.s last blog post..Roasted Veggies

  6. Forget the soup, I like the hug! I need to try this more often with my tantrum-child. I forget to do this, but when I have it has helped so much. Great post! You’re so wise! And I saw that Grey’s too…good one.

    Sharis last blog post..Whisk Wednesdays—Pintade à la Cévenole (Guinea Hen with Mushrooms and Chestnuts)

  7. Oh my heart goes out to you, especially with the new little one coming!The hug is an excellent idea! Great soup recipe, I want some!

    BTW- I’ve never seen Grey’s Anatomy. Am I a freak or what?!

    Janets last blog post..Gâteau de Crêpes with Green Tea Cream

  8. Lovely mom you are! But you must tell me if this wonderful Hug Therapy works when he is an adolescent (that’s what I am living through!) :-)

    Soup as Hug in a Bowl is also a beautiful thought and this soup seems like just the perfect hug!

    Jamies last blog post..NUTTY AND SWEET FOR THE HOLIDAYS

  9. Hm, if having a meltdown is what it takes to get some of this soup I might try it :)

    Cute tip from Grey’s Anatomy…who says that TV isnt educational anyway!?

    mariss last blog post..Sweet Potato Soup

  10. There is something poetic about “a hug in a bowl”. Classic!!! Lovely pictures!!!

    ninas last blog post..Garlic Spaghetti – a delicious way to combat the common cold!

  11. Incredible that you learned this from Grey’s anatomy!! See now I have to tell my guy that it’s not such a bad show after all..lol. Great that it worked! I saw your fabulous photo of this soup on foodgawker and am glad that I popped in! Looks incredible and this soup is definitely going to be one I need to try!

    Simone (junglefrog)s last blog post..Rocket with feta and cherry tomatoes

  12. Soup like this is a warm hug!
    Wisdom or tricks that work can come from very unlikely sources, this was one ;) What a delight.

  13. Wow! That was a very beautiful post – how smart of you to try that technique. I have a 5 year old who sometimes melts down for no reason – I gotta try this!

    Zaaras last blog post..Barefoot Bloggers – Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

  14. I get all warm & fuzzy simply by looking at your photo! I’ll have to try this hug technique on my stressed out man :)

    Jens last blog post..an edible read

  15. Love soups, this is so comfy food.

    Hélènes last blog post..Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast – Cooking Light

  16. That picture is gorgeous. Makes me want to wipe my finger across all of those drips! It sounds fantastic.

    Sara @ Our Best Bitess last blog post..Taste of the Tropics Giveaway!!

  17. Love how you’ve written this. Everything sounds (and looks) like comfort.

    The Duo Dishess last blog post..Citrus is Our New Black

  18. I love this picture-how the soup drips on the mug!

  19. Pat Wogan says:

    Soup as a “hug in a bowl” :) You are a fabulous writer and an excellent mother! WOW!

  20. So very cool! I am torn between complete amusement that you might be excited for him to have another meltdown to totally wishing he would myself so I could hear if it does work. Note to self: hug the kids from the side. :)

    Lauras last blog post..Why Have I Never Tried Lemon Sugar Cookies For Painting Before?


  1. [...] Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup is the ultimate in comfort food. She likens the hot soup to a “hug”, and I have to agree. Perfect for rainy days- or for days that just feel rainy (ever have those?) [...]

  2. [...] Dine and Dish » Hugs for Comfort (Recipe: Broccoli and Chicken … [...]

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