Saturday Editorial: Grandma’s Chicken Soup
All chefs have that one “aha” moment when they knew they wanted to cook. It is usually a simple, yet definitive moment coming from their childhood that defines the rest of their lives. Mine was no different.
For most of my youth, my idea of soup was the watery, sodium laden gruel from the ‘ole red and white Andy Warhol can. And if you were sharing the soup with another soul, it was always a fun game to see who would get THE chunk of chicken. My whole thoughts changed after my Grandma taught me how to make chicken dumpling soup.
I was 8 years old and it was the dead of winter during Christmas break. It was like another day– Go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, shovel out underneath the basketball hoop and shoot until my face and/or fingers lost feeling.
After I gave up on my winter hoop dreams for the day, I went inside to find my Grandma toiling in the kitchen. And of course being at the age of always wanting to help… I wanted to help.
So she had me slice up mirepoix (not that we knew what the hell that was) which is onions, celery and carrots while she boiled down the bones and leftovers from last night’s roast chicken. I thought it was so awesome being able to use a knife and cut things (I had issues back then) and was even like Johnsons and Johnsons while slicing the onions, No More Tears.
Everything went into the pot with salt, pepper, and a little sage, and boiled down into a magical potion. But we weren’t done yet. Grandma had mixed up a simple combination of flour, egg, and salt into a paste and declared, “It’s dumpling time!”
One by one we spooned the mixture into the steaming pot, making haste so they would all cook evenly.
Finally it was time to eat. The chicken was perfectly tender, the vegetables al dente, and the dumplings were light and heavenly. It was the kind of dish that not only fills the stomach, but replenishes the soul. A dish that takes heart to create and people can both taste and appreciate it. The kind of food I can only hope to make for the rest of my life.
Campbell’s ain’t got sh*t on us!