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Soup Starters for the Cold Season Ahead & A Food Gal Giveaway

Is it me or is everyone pretty much coughing up a lung these days?

Cold and flu season is definitely here, unfortunately.

Thank goodness for hot, steaming bowls of soup to make us all feel better. I know it sure did the trick when I was felled by a cold a couple of weeks ago.

Luckily, I had just received samples of new Pacific Organic Soup Starters to test out from the Oregon-based company.

They’re soup bases packaged in shelf-stable cartons for easy use. Last year, the company debuted its beef, chicken and vegetarian Vietnamese pho Soup Starters. This year, it added two more varieties: Tom Yum and Tortilla.

With my stuffy nose leaving me talking like the Snuffleupagus, I reached for the Thai-style Tom Yum for relief.

It couldn’t be easier. You just empty the broth base into a pot and heat. Instructions on the back of the box give advice on what other herbs or protein are good additions. I added chunks of chicken breast, sliced shiitakes, a chopped tomato, broccolini, cilantro and slivers of jalapeno. The instructions recommended cooked rice as an accompaniment, but I went with rice noodles instead.

The soup came together in mere minutes. The chicken broth-based soup starter was flavorful with a faint tang from lime oil. I like my tom yum a little more assertive, so I squirted in more fresh lime juice to kick it up.

A half-cup portion of the soup base has 10 calories and 330mg of sodium. The package says it serves eight. But really, if you’re indulging in a ramen bowl-size portion, one carton serves more like two.

Of course, you could doctor up your own chicken broth to make tom yum. But it’s pretty convenient to have a starter already in your cupboard much like you would canned chicken or beef broth at the ready.

The Pacific Organic Soup Starters are about $3.49 each for a 32-ounce carton at Whole Foods, Sprouts, New Leaf, and select Save Mart stores.

Contest: Five lucky Food Gal readers will each win a trio of Pacific Organic Soup Starters, one each of Vegetarian Pho, Tortilla, and Tom Yum. Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Nov. 10. Winners will be announced Nov. 12.

How to win?

Just tell me what you wish there was a starter kit for in life. Best five answers win the soup starters.

Here’s my own answer:

“I wish there was a starter kit for caring for family as they get elderly. So many of my friends now are at that age where we all see our relatives getting more and more frail and sickly. Until you’re finally thrust into that situation, you just don’t realize all the hoops you have to jump through to navigate through the health care system, assisted living system and home-care system. It can be so numbing and frustrating to search for just the right phone number or extension to get a real person to help you such a trying time. I wish there was a starter kit to lay out all the steps you need to take and how to go about it precisely to get what you need efficiently.”

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