Chicken Noodle Soup (for the Soul)
It got real in this house last night. Really real.
The first weekend after school starts is invariably a little hairy. The kids are tired and therefore cranky. As parents we’re trying our best to enjoy the final weekend before sports and schedules and crazy start up because some grandparent told us that we’d better “relish the moment” because before you know it they will be grown and you’ll regret it (talk about guilt), and we are usually frustrated at the failure to enjoy it because of the aforementioned crankiness by approximately 9:15 on Saturday morning. This weekend was no exception.
In his infinite wisdom, God deemed eons ago that in every family with multiple children, only one can be haywire at a time.* I’m pretty sure this came down with the stone tablets that the 10 Commandments were etched on. But I’m a little fuzzy on the actual details.* In true form, my family decided to be the exception to this rule this weekend. Both Dillon and Kenzie were off the chain crazy. It’s not rare for Dillon to be like this. He’s our most special challenge when it comes to behavior. I’ve spent many an hour on my knees praying for strength because of this boy. But typically, Kenz is pretty easy. As long as she’s entertained she’s doing ok. Once deemed the “happiest baby ever seen” by Jeff’s nana who knew a thing or two about babies, she has lived up to that moniker for almost 7 years. Until yesterday. The amount of whining, screaming and comparison shopping (you know what I’m talking about, parents. “I only got 2 chocolate chips while he got 3” thing that makes you crazy) was mind-numbing.
*probably not true.
It was so bad that after church, I sat everyone down in an emergency family conference trying to re-establish some sort of normalcy. I begged for peace and promised to do my part to foster it. I cited scripture and tried to appeal to their spiritual side.
And then it happened…….
The back to school stomach bug hit poor #3 pretty badly. The poor babe didn’t see it coming and was a hot mess for the entire evening. Thankfully, the “action part” of the flu was blessedly short for her and by 10:00pm she through the worst of it, resting peacefully in her bed, bucket close at hand just in case. As a parent, this did two things for me. The first thing it did was evict from me a huge sigh of relief that there was a logical reason for her insanity, and that reason was not my mediocre parenting. The second thing, however, is the most important, I believe. It re-instated my nurture mode. There is nothing a momma won’t do to soothe her sick baby. There is no amount of exhaustion that will keep her from rocking her child. In those moments, self really does disappear. And the only thing that matters is making your childs hurt better. It’s primal. It comes out without thought or consciousness. I’ve seen it in hospital waiting rooms and know that it transcends socio-economic class and culture. Moms are at their best when needed the most. And my heart was aching last night for my sick baby.
So today, as her poor sore tummy tries to regain equilibrium and she tries to rebuild the strength that this pox ripped out of her, I channel my mom, who was at her best when soothing me, and make her chicken noodle soup. Nothing is more nostalgic or comforting than a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup. Nothing makes me long for the comfort of my moms care while hoping that I am creating the same in my children. It’s a labor of love that I am glad to make. It’s a process that takes time and patience, but it’s a balm to the soul and body when it’s hurting. And it’s pretty darn good even if you’re not.
Chicken Noodle Soup (for the Soul)
- 3-4 lbs Bone-In, Skin-on chicken breast
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 4 large carrots, two cut into one-inch pieces, 2 finely chopped
- 4 Celery Stalks (plus celery leaves from the heart). 2 cut into large chunks, 2 finely diced
- 1 bunch flat leaf italian parsley
- 1 tsp Chicken Bouillon
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 1 lb Wide Egg Noodles
Place chicken breasts in large stock pot and fill with cold water until just about covered. Bring to boil over high heat.
Once boiling, use a slotted spoon to skim off the fat that has risen to the surface. It will appear as foam. It's gross. Do it anyway.
After skimming, add the onion, large chopped carrots and celery, celery leaves, the tops off the parsley, a pinch of curry powder and some fresh ground pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove chicken to a cutting board and set aside. Using a mesh strainer, strain the broth into a bowl, making sure to press out any liquid (flavor) from the vegetables. Return the broth to the pot and place back on the burner.
Taste the broth. If you need more chicken flavor, add the bouillon. Season with salt and pepper accordingly.
Finely dice (or shred) the chicken. Return about half to the pot. There will be plenty extra. I either freeze for dinners later or make a great chicken salad (recipe coming!) for lunch. Add the finely diced carrots and celery.
Simmer for 30 minutes (or longer) to let flavors meld.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain.
To assemble, place noodles in bottom of a deep soup bowl and ladle soup on top. Enjoy!
This soup freezes exceptionally well unless you add the noodles. They loose their texture in freezing and it’s not pleasant upon reheating. I keep the noodles separate and add the only when doing individual portions. When you re-heat the frozen soup, simply make more noodles and add.