The seasons are changing now, from summer to fall, from eyeball melting heat to mere hotness, and here in Georgia that means that on any given day it might be 85 degrees out or 50. Or both.
This is a recipe for illness in the Duff household, with my son and I generally bearing the brunt of the sniffles. This year it nailed my daughter as well.
So I made chicken soup. As a purebred Jewish mother, continuing an unbroken line of Jewish mothers going back to Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, I make a mean chicken soup, and it cures all manner of mental and physical illnesses. It is, to repeat a stereotype, Jewish Penicillin. As a public service, I am going to share the recipe here, in narrative form, so pay attention as there is no convenient list of ingredients. Things are measured in terms of “a bunch” or “some” so be careful.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you are going to be home for at least six hours. This is not something you can do in a crock pot, and you have to cook it for absolute ever for it to be any good, and we all know you can’t leave the house with the stove on or there will be a fire and you will burn up and die along with all your family heirlooms. You also need a giant soup pot, the bigger the better. A cauldron would work, if you have one.
Put a whole bunch of water in the pot. Then put a whole chicken, all cut up in the pot. I mean the whole chicken. Don’t take any of the skin or fat off. Put in the nasty bits that they put in the paper bag, like the gizzard and heart. (Not the paper bag, though.) Everything but the feathers and beak, really, and probably the beak would be ok, but the feathers would ultimately get caught between your teeth.
Get one of those normal sized bags of carrots, and peel them all, and cut them into large chunks. Throw the chunks in the soup pot. Then get a bunch of celery (what is a grouping of celery called? You know, the amount that all grows together from one root – is it a bunch of celery? A pride of celery? A murder of celery?) and cut it into chunks and throw it into the pot as well.
Get two or three turnips (depending on how big they are and whether or not you like turnips) and half-heartedly cut the skin off and chunk them and throw them in the pot, too.
Take a whole lot of fresh dill, and either wrap a rubber band around it or stuff it into this funky cool silicone thing I got from Pampered Chef which lets you stuff the herbs and things you want to flavor the soup in it without getting the actual leaves and resulting green sludge all over the food, and then throw that in the pot as well.
If you want to, you can add salt and if you really want to you can add pepper, though I wouldn’t recommend it.
And that’s all. After it boils, reduce it to a simmer and cover it. Once it has cooked for four or five hours minimum (more if you can stand it) fish out the dill and the nasty chicken bits and serve. If you want to go full on authentic, you can buy a canister of Manischewitz matzoh meal and follow the recipe on the side for matzoh balls, though honestly if you want any at all you are going to have to triple or quadruple it. If you want to go just passibly authentic, get skinny egg noodles and put them in the soup.
I take out all the chicken and, after it has cooled, I separate out the bone and gristle and icky parts and use the meat to make chicken salad. I make one heck of a chicken salad, both literally and metaphorically. And that’s what this whole thing is, isn’t it? An excuse to do the thing I was put on this Earth to do: take care of my babies, and express my love in my favorite love language, that is, food. Chicken soup, like Mommies, nurtures, nourishes, heals, and gives us what we need to live. And the parts you would throw out, the overboiled, mushy, gross looking parts, a Mommy can make them into something that works great on rye bread or Triscuits.
That’s one of the many things Mommies are good at, or at least this particular Mommy. Making chicken soup and chicken salad.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.