Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You Can Never Go Home Again, But You Can Make Chicken Noodle Soup.

Yesterday, when I came through the door after a long day of work, I could smell chicken soup. Granted, it was ramen chicken soup my mom had whipped up quickly for the kids after she had picked them up from the bus stop, but I was nonetheless immediately transported back to a time that was simpler and quieter. You know, that time when I was the kid.

Soba Noodle Chicken Soup Recipe
This is not my dad's chicken noodle soup. I don't even think he knows what soba noodles are. But it was just what I needed on this cold, dreary day.

When I was a little girl, I loved coming home from school to chicken noodle soup. It was one of the things my dad loved to cook, and on his rare days off, he often made it. I think it reminded him of his mother, who was the queen of chicken soup, complete with homemade, hand-cut egg noodles, sliced carefully on a cutting board that had a divot worn in the one side from many years of noodle-cutting. He would get out this giant, dinged-up aluminum pot (now that I think about it, I think it was his mom's pot) and throw in bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, a bouquet of herbs (tied in a bundle), carrots, potatoes, celery, sometimes diced tomatoes - you name it, it might have made its way into his chicken soup at some point.

One of the clearest memories I have from when I was young is coming in the front door of our old house on a cool fall day and throwing my backpack down as the scent of the soup hit my nostrils. I can smell this memory as well as I can see it and hear it. It hit me, physically, when I came home yesterday. That day, I think I was about nine years old. The house was crisply clean (a rarity in our house, if I'm being honest - we were always so busy, it was hard to keep everything spic and span). The windows were open (I can see the white curtains, fluttering). The TV was off. The soup smelled amazing. I know I ate bowl after bowl after bowl of that soup until my stomach felt like Winnie the Pooh's. I always did. I think I was trying to eat up the love I could taste in the bowl.

Smelling the chicken soup yesterday afternoon made me feel ... well, sad. I can't go home again. First of all, my parents don't live there. They have long been divorced and now live in different houses in different cities (which was the right choice for both of them, honestly). I'm older. I'm supposed to be the adult who has her shit together, her ducks in a row. The world is different - noisier, faster-paced.

What I wouldn't give to be able to turn back the clocks and walk through that door one more time, one more time when I knew that it would be my last time. And that I would have to grow up. When the divorce finally came down, I was living in a different state and avoided that house like the plague. As a child would.

And so, here's the soup I made today for lunch. It was quick. It was easy - which my grandmother's and my father's were not. You know, the faster-paced world and all. Sophie still loved it.

Chicken Soba Noodle Soup

One tablespoon of coconut oil
Five carrots
One medium-sized onion
One package of chicken tenderloins
Two cloves of garlic
One handful of parsley
One box of chicken broth
One cup water
One lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
One package of Annie's Japanese Buckwheat Soba Noodles

1. Over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of coconut oil in a large pot (I use a Dutch oven my dad bought me when I make soup).
2. Cook the peeled and diced carrots and the onion, diced, in the oil for about 5 minutes (until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown). Season with salt and pepper.
3. While the carrots and onion are cooking, dice the chicken tenderloins and mince the garlic. When the 5 minutes are up, add the chicken and garlic to the pot. Cook until the chicken begins to brown.
4. Add one handful of chopped parsley, one box of chicken broth, one cup water, and the juice of one lemon. Allow all to cook together for about 15-25 minutes.
5. In the meantime, cook the Soba noodles according to the package directions. This is the first time I've worked with Soba noodles (I bought them on sale in my local market). Sophie looooooved them. If my four-year-old picky eater loved them, that is a definite win for the Soba noodle. I thought they were delicious. Delightfully chewy and toothsome, with a great nutty flavor to balance the lemon in the soup.
6. You know the rest. Drain the noodles, plate the soup with the noodles. Eat. Reminisce. So good. I mean it. And fast enough to make for a weekday lunch when you are working from home.

While I was making this for lunch, Sophie informed me that she was "skeptical" about what I was making. #ohsheoflittlefaith
Enjoy! A/J
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