Tuesday, September 29, 2009


It’s getting colder and I want soup.

I loved the lunches my mother made, and when I was a kid I loved Campbell’s soups. To feed seven kids, she’d heat up a number of cans of the standards: tomato, cream of mushroom, chicken noodle, and sometimes there’d be vegetarian vegetable or beef barley. I especially liked the cream of mushroom when there were little lumps of creamy goodness. I thought mushrooms came in little cubes like that, too. There’d be combos: tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Cream of mushroom soup with tuna fish. Vegetarian vegetable with peanut butter and jelly.

I served my kids the same canned soups I grew up with. It wasn’t until I became more of cook than a can opener that I tried my hand at home-made soup. It seemed a lot of effort for the end result, and I gave up. At the time I was living on my own and thought “Who makes a huge pot of soup for one person?” so I continued in the canned tradition.

Last night Katie made home-made chicken noodle soup, from the remnants of the previous night’s dinner. She simmered the remaining chicken with onions and garlic, some chicken stock, the little bit of remaining gravy and enough water to cover it all. She threw in carrots and mixed vegetables, some poultry seasoning, kosher salt and cracked pepper. We emptied our spice cabinet and before we got carried away throwing everything in the pot (no, NO cinnamon, no ginger, no nutmeg!!!) we realized enough was enough.

Katie removed the chicken from the pot to pick off as much remaining meat as possible, which went back into the simmering brew. The soup was still pretty clear and thin but when she added the half-cooked egg noodles (Pennsylvania Dutch style) it all came together like magic. The starch from the noodles thickened it up beautifully. Since we were doing this late into the night, we let it cool a bit and then filled every little storage container we could find so we can enjoy it later. I had lids with no bottoms and bottoms with no lids but eventually all the parts came together and there’s soup for days ahead. Of course, I left for work this morning without my little container of soup. I need a morning assistant!

There’s no recipe for this kind of soup, no specific quantities. It’s just a thrown-together pot of comfort that will be different every time, depending on what’s on hand. You know what I’m having for dinner tonight!

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