“I used to hate this when we were little,” my brother said, one night as I served our mother’s chicken noodle soup for dinner.
“Me too,” I replied with a laugh.
“But now, I really like it,” he added, as he raised a spoonful of soup to his mouth.
“Me too,” I answered as I continued to enjoy my bowl.
This conversation took place some years after we had been living in our newly adopted city of Prague, far away from our hometown, far away from our family. It made me wonder if all that distance and missing “home” had somehow made this soup tastier and more delicious than ever. Even after so many years, I still haven’t found it easy to live in one place and have my heart in another. For me, that about sums up the biggest challenge in the life of an ex-pat.
My daughters and I have just returned back to Prague after two months of living la vida loca in my hometown of New York City. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, cousins and childhood friends galore visited us and filled our lives with joy and happiness. Although we have a wonderful and loving group of friends (who are like family) in Prague, there was still something that felt very sad about coming back “home.”
In our family, the word “home,” holds so many different meanings. We have our “home base” in Prague, but then there’s our “home” in Spain and there is also our “home” in New York City. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining here. I truly appreciate that we get to experience all these different places and live a life abroad. I just wish there was a way that we could live it with our families close by. That would probably ease the pain of having to say good-bye at the end of each stay and my heart wouldn’t be shattered to pieces. Parting seems to be a lot more difficult now that I have entered this new stage of life. Since becoming a mother, I swell up with truckloads of emotions when it comes to leaving my family. It saddens me that my kids won’t see their grandparents on a daily basis or have the chance to drop in on their cousins anytime they want. In my life B.K. (Before Kids), this thought rarely crossed my mind. Now, I try to find many ways to cope with the great distances and deal with the long separations. Thank goodness for Skype, I guess. I know I’ll get over it as soon as our Prague life returns to order, but I will still miss my family. So, maybe this is why the first thing I wanted to cook when we returned home was my mama’s chicken noodle soup.
It’s a very simple soup. The most important ingredient you need is a good broth. Now, don’t skimp out and throw in a cube of chicken bouillon. It really doesn’t take much effort to make a pot of homemade chicken stock. You will definitely notice a difference!
I can’t remember why I disliked this soup as a child. These days, I cherish every spoonful. I hope you will too!
Mama’s Chicken Noodle Soup
1/2 chicken with bones
10-12 cups of water
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sage
1 bay leaf
Salt to your liking
Cut the chicken into pieces.
Put all the ingredients together in a deep pot.
Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 30 minutes to 2 hours. (The longer the better 🙂
When it cools down, remove chicken and discard bay leaf.
Discard the skin and begin to shred the meat off the bones into thin pieces.
Return shredded pieces of chicken to the pot.
For the rest of the soup:
2 medium-sized carrots, julienne style
2 sticks of celery, sliced thinly
1 onion, chopped
1 cup of cabbage, sliced thinly
1/2 cup of elbow macaroni
In a shallow frying pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil.
When ready, add the onion and cook until translucent.
Then add the carrots and celery.
Stir and cook until tender, but still crisp.
Reheat the chicken stock.
When it starts boiling, add the onions, carrots and celery.
Lower flame to a simmer.
Let it cook for about 20 minutes.
Then add the cabbage and macaroni.
Cook for another ten minutes or until cabbage and pasta are done.
Optional: Pour 1/4 cup of milk or cream. (My mom always added this in at the end, it was a Filipino thing )
Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Enjoy with Allison’s Gluten Free Cornbread and remember all those happy days with your family!