Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Growing up I loved the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I felt like they spoke to me. I had the kid version, the teen book, the off to college collection, and many adult volumes.

I loved the ones written by famous authors and actors, but most of all I loved the ones written by regular people. They just seemed to get it. The fears, the insecurities, the confusions. The joy, the excitement, the accomplishment. In volume after volume of books I learned that I was not the only one who had the feelings that I had. I learned that in a few pages, short stories could do what novels could not, tug at your heart strings so strongly and so intensely, and then let go. I not only learned to love the Chicken Soup books, but the short story too.

Through high school and college I perfected the short story. I used the technique of taking small snippets of highly emotional (and generally factual) drama to spice up my writing, my school papers, and my projects. It was about this time when my parents decided I should write screenplays for a living because I was quickly adopting the "based on a true story" model.

For me, it was never about a career in writing or getting an A (which, by the way, was something I worked very hard for throughout all of my many years in school), it was about telling the story. Anyone with access to the internet and the library could write a solid paper comparing voter turn out in a major city vs. a bedroom suburb vs. a rural community in the same state. But it took creativity and finesse to add the human element to the story, to really get to the level of why something happened, not just that something happened. I used personal stories, historical references, and primary sources to personify major historical events and political theory. Factually I was accurate, but sometimes my emotion peaked through the pages. Luckily my degree was in the social sciences and this type of writing was appreciated.

It is funny to think back on where my writing habits came from, and how they have changed slightly, but not completely. I still try to tell the whole story, while adding in the human element and emotional piece. Some days I am better at it than others. I try not to write too much "based on a true story" but many of my stories are. I find it easier to share my thoughts that way because for me writing, and reading, is more about feeding my soul than getting words on a page.

Since currently I write about food and life, and they say chicken soup can feed your soul, here is our family's chicken soup recipe.  

1-3 cubes of chicken flavored bouillon
Either remaining bones of a whole chicken or quartered chicken (2 thighs, 2 breasts, 2 legs)
**you can add some giblets if you have some for extra flavor
1 bunch of parsley
3-4 stalks of celery cut into 4-5 inch pieces
2 whole carrots cut up or a bag of baby carrots
1 parsnip
salt and pepper
Optional: You can also add cut up potato, rice, green beans, or anything else you have lying around
1 bag of egg noodles

  • Fill a large pot halfway with cold water.
  • Add chicken, celery, carrots, parsnip, 1 cube of bouillon, parsley (tie stalks together with another stem or thread), 2 tbsp salt, and pepper 
  •  After bringing the pot to a boil, reduce down to a simmer
  • The soup will take a few hours to develop the full flavors. The longer you let the soup cook for, the more flavor you will get. Be sure to taste it along the way. Adjust the flavor by adding another bouillon cube, salt, and/or pepper to taste.
  • Once the soup has cooked long enough to produce the desired taste, remove the bunched parsley and bones from the pot.
  • Separately, before serving the soup, cook the egg noodles and strain them. Do not leave the noodles in the soup too long before serving. They will disintegrate.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for chicken soup! Some of that would be really good on this cold So Cal day. Hope you're having a great weekend! Thanks for sharing your family's recipe :-)