Happy Birthday, Mom!

I made my Mom’s chicken noodle soup today. Not necessarily because it was her birthday, but because it felt good since we’re all nursing colds. I remember in my early teens when I was suffering from probably the worst sinus infection I’ve ever had, and my dear mom made a big pot of this soup for me to have any time I needed it. It was the perfect medicine — comforting, soothing therapy. I ate bowl after bowl while watching Gone With the Wind for the first time.

So I want to post the recipe. It’s one of those that I don’t have written down. I just have called Mom enough that I now know it by heart. This is the way my mom and my aunt and their mom always made good ol’ chicken soup.

  • A chicken. A big one. I don’t like the icky parts (heart and what-not) because it makes the broth weird. But you do want the neck. Boney parts are the key.
  • Boil that baby with some leafy celery sticks (not cut up) and a couple yellow onions with the fuzzy ends cut off but the skin on (the skin makes a nice color) and a bay leaf. Add salt and pepper if you remember it. About 1-2 hours. It’s done when the meat falls off the bones.
  • Take out the chicken and set it aside to cool. If you have the time, cool the whole pot of broth to skim the fat off. If you don’t have the time, I’ve actually had better luck with throwing in lots of ice cubes and spooning them out since the fat attaches to the ice.
  • Spoon out the bay leaf, the celery sticks, and onion if you can. If not, strain it with some cheese cloth in a colander.
  • When the chicken is cool enough to touch, pick off the meat and throw it back in the pot.
  • While you’re warming up the soup again, cut up some celery and carrots and throw them in. I like a lot of carrots. Cook them for around 30 minutes.
  • Close to dinner time, fix the noodles. I got the Manischewitz fine egg noodles this time because that’s what Mom always uses.

The Chciuk/Kaminski secret for making this soup successful is to never mix the noodles with the soup until it’s in each serving bowl. Otherwise the noodles get weird. And this way each person can get as many noodles as s/he wants.

If Dad were writing this blog post, he’d interject here how he liked to eat this soup when he was a kid. He’d get a lot of noodles and pour the soup over it. He’d eat every drop, and then salt the remaining noodles down and lick the plate clean. Then he’d probably eat the entire apple pie that my Grandma used to fix him for every dinner. Yes, a whole pie!! Every day!

As my Grandma Chciuk used to say, “a hearty appetite means a hard worker!”

So there you have it — all my family secrets. Happy 79th, Mom!!

[tags]chicken soup, chciuk, kaminski[/tags]

3 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Mom!”

  1. […] So I made the menorah — a little bit of Martha, a little bit of an excuse to practice knitting with wire. I lined up the latke recipes. We found some gelt. We got a few books — one for kids, one with the whole story, and one to satisfy Mom’s obsession with American history (especially as it intersects with Polish history!). We even had some honest-to-goodness homemade chicken noodle soup a la Kaminski! […]

  2. […] know how Grandma made chicken soup. And I have some of her crocheted tablecloths too. I know that she would often say to my mom, […]

  3. […] We humans have a need to connect to the past. We want to know that what we’re doing others before us have done. That’s why I hang my mother’s childhood ornaments. That’s why we look at old pictures and read history books and visit monuments. That’s why I make my grandmother’s soup. […]