Healing, Heartache and What I Ate
I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that in spite of my lineage I never made “real” chicken soup until fairly recently, when suddenly there was nobody else to make it for me. But healing heartache called for new rituals.
My husband Andy (we’ve been separated since July) came to visit a few weeks ago and brought me a batch of his homemade chicken soup. This is the soup that made me fall in love with soup, never having particularly succumbed to its charms before. This soup was filled with love and made me feel loved and cherished any time Andy made it for me.
This was the soup of my marriage.
The soup that I was nourished with anytime I was even a little sick, or had been eating badly and needed to stop, or just wanted simple food that didn’t trigger all the food sensitivities and cravings.
If I asked, poof, there it was.
This soup felt like proof of being loved and cared for. It was one of the ways that Andy made me feel loved, special, cherished. I treasured it and referred to it as liquid gold (turmeric for healing and for color).
When Andy brought me soup last month I almost cried. After he left and I was left alone to eat it, this soup comforted me. Every spoonful felt precious, especially knowing there was only so much.
Because soup, although perfect and deeply nourishing, wasn’t enough to save our marriage.
And sometimes love in all its forms, just isn’t enough. It wasn’t for us. And even typing this creates a wave of wobbliness in me…a kind of disbelief, the mild nausea of knowing I am living on my own again. Personal freedom…yes, but still moving through the loss and the grief. The longing for it to have been different.
…Back to the soup.
After I’d finished the last drops of the liquid love, I was hit full force with the worst cold and bronchial infection I’ve had in maybe 10 years. Bad. Sick. Miserable. A little scared.
In a weird way it felt like a crucible- a rite of passage, a small test of courage. There was nobody here to make me soup or tend me.
I dragged my poor pathetic self to our local healthy market and bought myself a gorgeous organic chicken. It just happened to be the same brand as what we had used when we were together…Misty Knolls, so good.
I added organic low sodium broth, grabbed onions celery carrots and bay leaves. Some dill. At home I already had the turmeric, beautiful fresh thyme, and a big new stockpot just waiting to be useful.
And so a new ritual of pure self-love and care mixed with connections to those I love, my husband, my mom, and my grandmothers, was created.
In the last 3 weeks I have made 3 big batches of this deeply nourishing chicken soup (and another bubbling on my stove as I write) and in a way I feel I have come into my own.
Being able to heal myself with soup, at a time when I so missed being taken care of, was an important choice. It added to my sense of knowing I would be ok.
I also paused while cooking the soup to choose not just what ingredients I wanted in there, but also what qualities I wanted to infuse it with. Remember the movie “Like Water for Chocolate”? The movie beautifully portrayed how we impart energy to our cooking that can be experienced by those who share it.
I chose to channel love, care, the comforts of hearth and home, nurturance, and hope into my brew. And in each spoonful I have experienced these energetic qualities. I have also shared soup with those I love. Because soup has been a form of love for me lately and helped me build a bridge to who I am becoming.
And so if you too could use a big pot of love, nourishment, and healing, this is for you, my angel.
Soup for Healing Anything: A Recipe and Prescription
I am a sort of slap-dash cook and feel my way into whatever I’m making… intuitive in this as with all things. Feel free to play with the recipe. But I will tell you this soup both healed my bronchitis and in many ways my heart.
I use organic ingredients but that’s up to you.
1 5-lb. organic chicken
3 boxes of low sodium chicken broth
5-6 large carrots
2 cloves garlic
4-5 ribs celery
2 bay leaves
fresh thyme, dill, parsley, rosemary to fit your preferences
½ tsp. turmeric
Salt and Pepper
Rough chop vegetables and put in bottom of big soup pot.
Put whole chicken on top. Add herbs and salt and pepper to top of chicken. Add turmeric to broth.
Cover everything with broth so covering the chicken
Cover and bring to boil over high heat, then lower heat so soup is at constant simmer. Skim off the foamy stuff during the first half hour.
Check the meat on chicken after about 2-2 ½ hours, if it’s starting to fall off the bone and not pink anymore remove entire chicken with tongs to a plate. Some meat may fall off, it’s ok, leave it in. Dark meat usually takes a bit longer, you can leave it in.
Remove all skin, bones, cartilege. Shred the meat and add back to soup. I also add back the big bones and add about a capful of apple cider vinegar and simmer for about another hour to leach the good stuff from the bones.
Remove bones and discard. Move soup into glass containers and bring it to room temperature (I stand them in cold water in the sink to do it faster to avoid bacteria- do not leave for hours on counter cooling- dangerous). Refrigerate.
Using a ladle you can put as much soup as you want into small saucepan when ready to eat.
My favorite add-ins are baby arugula and spinach, fresh cilantro, kelp cellophane noodles, sriracha. I put all of these in a bowl and then add the steaming soup so greens stay green. This makes each bowlful really incredible. Trust me.
So good… hope you make it and enjoy. This could last a week so you can eat well plus not spend a whole lot of money. You’ll be so happy to have it in your fridge come mealtime.
With so much love from my heart to yours…