Chicken Soup

Via Julie, I chanced upon My Mom’s Blog by Thoroughly Modern Millie. I can see the draw, this is a delightfully written blog. Like a visit with Grandma for some of you. Although she’s a bit younger than my own mother, her remembrance of her mother’s chicken soup reminds me of my grandmother.

Chicken soup was always the first course of Sunday dinner in my Grandmother’s house. My grandfather was Old Europe in manners and rituals, but (proudly) without a trace of accent in his language. He preached two services every Sunday morning, one in Hungarian and one in English, to his largely immigrant congregation, while the soup and, often, cabbage rolls were slowly cooking to perfection in the parsonage. My grandmother was an accomplished organist, supplementing the family income playing funerals, and always playing the hymns and Bach selections in the Church.

They were the old time pastoral ministry that “did it all”. Maybe I’ll write more on that sometime, today I want to extol my grandmother’s chicken soup. It was a rich and golden soup and always had to be served hot ( my grandfather insisted upon just the right temperature!). Flavored with parsley and saffron, it held chicken pieces, chunks of orange carrot, and always, giblets. I delighted in getting either the heart or the gizzard. Something my family here, with my soggy noodle German-background husband and offspring, cannot appreciate. There was something wonderful about those chewy organ meats that cannot be explained to the uninitiated or unwilling.

Being the first course of the meal, it was served in large soup plates and then had a chance to cool during my grandfather’s long prayer, which always seem to irritate my mother, but which I always liked.

There were many things about my grandmother’s house that I liked. I liked the breakfasts of soft boiled eggs in cups with the little tops gingerly sliced off with a sharp rap of the knife. I liked the fresh perked coffee that flavored my milk and the Ovaltine that was served with apple butter and toast. I loved the ‘Daily Bread’ devotionals previous to the repast, and then running the coffee grounds to the rich garden soil in the backyard garden.

And the way my grandmother sneaked to burn the trash on Sunday and swore me to secrecy , so no one would get lectured by my Calvinist grandfather who was out making Sunday calls.

I make my chicken soup differently than my grandmother, but hers was a thing of art. It held the warmth and the scent of love serving one’s family. It was dependable, and it was a comfort.

We need more chicken soup today, slow simmered and served leisurely, with everone seated around the table.

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