Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Feel Better with Soup

This recipe doesn't have anything to do with summertime. But I started this blog post while I was still sick in bed with mono, thinking about how much I wish my mom could come take care of me. So in the same spirit as "Christmas in July," I'm going to write about my all-time favorite soup recipe.

All of my daughters were born a month early. But since we were new at the game, our first one caught us by surprise and therefore was the most traumatic. When we brought Madeleine home from the hospital she was only five pounds, and she came with one of those little baby tanning beds that help resolve jaundice. Like many other first-time mothers with a sick baby, I sat on our couch and cried like a faucet that wouldn't turn off. My sister and one of my good friends have since then had much tinier babies and now I understand that five pounds is actually pretty good, but back then it felt like the worst thing that could ever happen.

I remember my mom coming to visit and waking up in the night with our little bundle of joy who wouldn't stop howling. I awoke several hours later to a quiet house, certain Madeleine must have died. What new mother hasn't been fed and fully digested horror stories of SIDS? I leaped out of bed and ran through our apartment with my heart pounding. And there she was. Fast asleep on Grandma's chest. A quiet baby? I thought to myself with amazement. It was nothing short of miraculous.

The night before my mom was scheduled to leave I couldn't sleep. She was leaving me alone? Did anyone think this was a great idea? When I tried to bathe Madeleine for the first time I stuck her in the bathtub and turned the faucet on full blast. Nobody had told me about sponge baths in the sink for a five pound baby! Wasn't this a clue that there might be other motherhood mysteries, important ones, that I still needed to learn? Was I the only one who felt adult supervision, preferably by an experienced mother, might be the way to go?

When I awoke the next morning our house smelled like roasted chicken and cloves. I found my mom in the kitchen stirring a huge pot of her "almost homemade chicken noodle soup." She had been up since dawn and I marveled at the nobility of this farewell gesture. With a memory like this, is it a surprise that I associate food with love and healing?

Good food is at the center of all my most important relationships. With my friends it's fun, with my family it's healthful and uniting, and with my mother, in that moment, it was something else. It was lots of things. A profound, much needed reassurance. An apology- I'm sorry I have to leave, but I'm doing everything I can to help before I go. And an instructive lesson on the unspoken love language between mothers and daughters. For me, this recipe will always be chicken soup for my soul.

photo credit

Kay's Almost Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole chicken or 2 lbs. chicken breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken
3-5 whole cloves
one onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
5 chicken bouillion cubes
1 or 2 12oz.packages frozen homemade egg noodles (look in frozen food aisle by rolls). We like extra noodles so we use 2 packages.

Simmer chicken in stock pot with cloves until cooked through. Remove chicken, set aside to cool. Add noodles, bouillion, and veggies to stock pot and simmer until tender. Meanwhile, pull chicken from bone and cut into bite sized pieces. When veggies and noodles are tender, add chicken and stir. Remove cloves with slotted spoon as you serve the soup. 

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