But it was still soup weather, as far as I was concerned. And what I hankered for was not out of a can. Not ‘dust’, from a just-add-water-and-stir box. Not store made. I wanted home made soup. Specifically, my mother’s chicken soup. She made THE best chicken soup.
Which meant a trip to the grocery store was in my immediate future. I looked outside and everything seemed to be all right. At least as much as I could see from fifteen floors up. So I fed the cats, had breakfast, read the paper, took a shower, emptied litter boxes; and waited to see if the urge would pass. It didn’t.
So I made a list of all the ingredients I’d need, and got dressed. And dicked around for a while. Much as I wanted the soup, I was in no rush to leave the warmth and comfort of my abode. But then I spoke to a friend and committed myself. Told her I was going out because I was going to make chicken soup. And we agreed to meet for coffee.
Even so, it was close to 4:00 pm when I finally dragged my sorry ass out of the house.
At first blush, the roads and sidewalks seemed relatively clear. At least on my block. But as I got to the next block, things were a mess. Yes, the street had been plowed, but huge banks of snow had been piled up next to the sidewalks. Impossible to climb over, by the way, unless you’re a mountain goat. Which I am not.
An already narrow street became considerably more narrow. Not helped by the fact cars were parked on both sides. Not helped by the fact some A-hole left his or her car in a driveway, with most of the front end, in the street. The driver? Nowhere to be seen. Parked in the middle of the street, for what reason I do not know, was a Mercedes jeepy-looking thing, with a woman in the passenger seat. A man, the driver I’m presuming, was walking up and down the street yelling. No, I don’t know who he was screaming at. The invisible driver of the other car, would be my guess.
There was a tow truck on the scene, doing nothing. And then one of those HUGE super-sized, big-enough-for-a-family-of-ten-to-live-in, truck/jeep/van thingies started driving the wrong way on a one-way street, forcing the long procession of cars going the right way, to suddenly reverse and attempt to back down the street. Pissed as they all were, none of them were prepared to take on the I-mean-business-do-not-mess-with-me, mean machine on wheels. And who could blame them?
Don’t ask. Bad weather always brings out the worst in everyone. Especially drivers. Especially bad drivers.
And there I was, just trying to get to the flipping grocery store. Walking on the sidewalks was impossible. They were a mess. And you took your life in your hands walking on the road, because of all the cars going in various directions. But what choice did I have?
It is three and a half relatively short blocks from where I live to Whole Foods. But by the time I got there, I was completely exhausted; and out of breath.
Neither my friend, or I, had eaten lunch, so we had a panini and a cappuccino before we hit the grocery store. Which was a total ZOO. People everywhere. Carts everywhere. Facing every direction. Taking up all the room in the aisles. It was worse than the scene I’d just left on the street.
“Patience is a virtue”, I kept telling myself.
They say when you’re really stressed, it’s good to make a list of what you’re grateful for. Even if it’s just one thing. I know there’s an awful lot for me to be grateful for. And usually I have no problem with this exercise. But at that moment, well, what can I say? Nothing jumped out at me.
Although I was very grateful when I finally got home.
Even if I was too tired to make the damn soup. I’ll make it in the morning, instead. Here’s hoping I still want it. So, do you want to know how my mother made her soup? It’s actually really easy:
Cut a chicken in eight pieces (or ask the butcher to do it, which is what I do). Wash them, and put them in a large pot. My mother always removed the skin, except for the wings and drumsticks. It’s a matter of taste. We don’t like the soup when it’s too greasy from the fat under the skin. Cover with water. Add a half a green pepper, two or three stalks of celery (washed and cut in thirds), one onion (peeled and cut in half), two or three parsnips (peeled and cut in half), two or three large carrots (peeled and cut in half). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, constantly skimming off the white foam that accumulates at the top. Once it’s boiling, and all the foam’s gone, reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for about two hours. About 20 – 30 minutes before the soup is finished cooking, add a small bunch of fresh dill. And check to see if it needs more salt or pepper.
Some people make matzoh balls for the soup. I don’t. I find them tasteless. Like mushy styrofoam. Some people boil rice and dump that in. I prefer it the way my mother always served it. With fine egg noodles, which she always made separately and added to each, individual serving. We also always discarded the green pepper, the onion and the dill before serving, but left the carrots and parsnips. It’s all a matter of personal taste.
Let me know if you make it; and if you like it. And remember: “There’s no such thing as too much chicken soup. Unless you’re a chicken”.