I believe that a pot of homemade chicken rice soup can cure just about anything troubling me.
Severe longing for a sunny spring day when it’s only February, a kid with the flu, or waiting for the results of a national election brings on the overwhelming need to cook a large pot of soup.
In the morning, I’ll put a whole chicken in a big pot with enough water to cover it. I’ll add an onion, a stalk of celery a little bit of salt; a couple of low sodium bouillon cubes and last night’s left over peas. I’ll turn the gas burner on high and bring the whole kibosh to a boil. When it is bubbling along merrily, I’ll turn the heat down a bit and let the soup pot simmer while I write in my journal, fold a load of laundry, tend a sick child, or check a website for election updates.
The aroma of chicken stock permeates the kitchen. There is no sweeter perfume unless it’s a pan of brownies or a chocolate cake cooling on a baking rack.
My family will tell you that the best part of chicken rice soup is sitting down to a steaming bowl with a nice thick slice of bread and butter. I disagree. The joy of soup – any kind of soup -is in the creation.
When the chicken is cooked and falling off the bones, I’ll lift the chicken to a carving board, cut the chicken meat into bite size pieces, and strain the broth. Next, I’ll trim carrots into little rounds, dice onions into neat squares as tears sting my eyes. I’ll slice celery stalks into perfect half moons and I’ll combine the vegetable gems and the chicken pieces in the simmering broth.
Measuring one cup of rice to two cups of boiling water, gently cooking the rice until its fluffy then adding it to the pot as a star performer. The last magnificent addition.
As I chop, dice, slice, taste for seasonings, add a little more salt, I am subconsciously aware of the many generations of cooks who have spent a morning making chicken rice soup. I have immense faith that chicken rice soup will continue to be made by those of us who simply love good soup.