This I Believe

Debra - Tucson, Arizona
Entered on June 15, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, pleasure

This I believe. I believe in chicken soup. Not just the eating of the chicken soup-but the making of the soup. Chicken soup is woven into the very fabric of my life. I learned to make chicken soup by watching my mother make it every Thursday night. For the first seventeen years of my life I had chicken soup every Friday night. I grew up in Queens NY, and after working all day as a bookkeeper in the garment center in NY, my mother would stand at the kitchen sink and clean 2 kosher chickens-one for the soup and one to roast. It seemed that she would stand there for hours, cutting fat and plucking the tiny feathers the butcher left. The small paring knife collecting white fat as her strong hands became slick with grease. I would sit at the small table between the sink and the stove and watch her. A feeling a peace in our otherwise loud and stressed home would prevail. Once the chicken was cleaned to Mom’s satisfaction, and rinsed she covered it with water in the “chicken soup pot” and put it on the stove to boil. She then began the process of cleaning the “soup greens”. I did not know, until I was an adult that fresh dill could be used for foods other than chicken soup. I watched intently as my mother cleaned two carrots, two stalks of celery, one onion, one parsnip, one turnip and wrapped fresh dill and parsley into a bundle with the white sewing thread she kept in the kitchen just for this purpose. The vegetables went into the pot and simmered for the rest of the evening. I believe in Chicken soup for its healing powers of tradition and comfort. When I was old enough, about ten, it was my job on Friday’s when I came home from school, to skim the fat from the soup and set it on the stove to warm. I believe in chicken soup for the intricate comfort only a many generation old ritual can provide. My own children are grown now, and no I did not make chicken soup every Friday night for them when they were growing up. But the soup was there at every important moment in our lives. For every holiday, the decision still is when will the soup be made, and who in multifamily events will make the soup? When my children were young, if they were sick with anything at all-I knew they needed chicken soup. Sometimes I would get up at sunrise to get the ingredients before they woke so they could heal and recover with the wonderful fragrance of the soup simmering.

Tonight, my daughter (in her summer before she leaves for college) and I went out to dinner. I am in the middle of a breast cancer scare, but when the waiter told us the soup of the day was chicken soup, I knew I would be alright.