Fresh Vegetable Stock by Nikki

it smells sooooo good

it smells sooooo good

Here I go again, sharing my homemade stock creations with you! But I just have to because this one was given the A+ by my good friend MM. You see, I have a number of friends who are vegetarians. I love these people so much that when it was time to host a second Thanksgiving dinner at my flat, I made a fresh vegetable stock to use in place of chicken stock in the Thanksgiving stuffing. Changing the stock to accommodate my friends was no big deal, and I know I didn’t have to do this for them, but I am so thankful for their love and support that it was my pleasure to experiment with this recipe. Here is a little secret for you, I made up the recipe as I went along. So for the first time, I will post this as my own recipe… although I am sure there are plenty of other veggie stock recipes out there with the same or at least similar methods and ingredients!

You can use this stock as a vegetarian base for your favorite soup and as a substitute for meat stocks in other recipes.  But unlike making your own meat based stocks, you can use the leftover veggies! Yep, this is a WHOLE food recipe- no wasting! After removing the bay leaves from the mix, I pureed the veggies in my food processor. After this cooled, I froze this thick vegetable puree to use in a quiche or stew later this winter… If this was a Facebook post I would end it with… feeling accomplished!  Give it a try and enjoy!

fresh veggies

fresh veggies

Vegetarian Stock

(This recipe is all mine!)

ingredients: 8 carrots, 1 bunch of celery stalks, 2 red onions, 2 white onions, 1 bunch of fresh parsley, 5 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried sage    optional: fresh peppers, potato, and/or parsnip

directions: Chop all vegetables and throw into a large soup pot with 4-5 cups of water. Add spices and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to medium low and let the stock bubble gently for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain stock through a sieve into a different large soup pot (for immediate use) or large bowl for cooling.

Note: Stock should stay fresh in for one week in the fridge and also freezes well in ice cube trays!

cook for 2-3 hours

cook for 2-3 hours

 

 

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Chicken Tortilla Soup! By Nikki

it smells so good when cooking...

it smells so good when cooking…

When I was in university, I would often meet my mother on a Sunday afternoon at the club. Yes, we are the type of people who belonged to the local sports club which is just a fancy way of saying we belonged to the nice gym in our town! Mama and I would strap on our goggles, put on our swim caps and get into the pool in the unflattering, uncomfortable speedo swim suit! We would then swim laps side-by-side for 30-60 minutes. After a dip in the jacuzzi to relax our muscles, we would shower and meet in the cafe for a bowl of hot, chicken tortilla soup. The workout always felt great but the soup was the best part of these swimming sessions… and just as healthy for our bodies!

Since my days at the club, I have taken up other sports such as cycling on weekends and floorball on Friday afternoon. I have also continued my love of running! There is nothing like hitting the pavement and letting all the worries and business of life take a back seat for an hour. It is my therapy! And of course, I still love chicken tortilla soup. This soup takes preparation so for me, it has become a weekend soup. But rest assured, that is does reheat well during the week.

So here we go…

Chicken Tortilla soup

so yummy

Chicken Tortilla Soup

If you don’t already know this about me, I prefer to make my own chicken stock. This adds an extra step to my soup preparation. You don’t have to do this, as you can make your chicken tortilla soup with your preferred, already prepared stock. (In Prague, Marks & Spencer sells liquid chicken stock!)  Use enough stock to fill a large soup pot 1/2 full.

roast a chicken, boil the bones for 2 hours with chopped onion, celery, carrot and dried sage, salt and pepper

homemade stock: roast a chicken, boil the bones for 2 hours on medium heat with 1 onion, 2 celery stalks , 1-2 carrots all chopped, dried sage, salt and pepper, then strain and use the stock for your favorite soup

I like this soup to have a slightly spicy, kick so I add jalapeno to the broth while it is coming to a boil. (Prague people, I use the Albert brand that comes in a jar, but you can also get fresh jalapeno at Tesco.) I prefer to use fresh kernels of corn, that I cut off the corn cob. After summer is over corn season is over as well. So in the winter months, I use a small jar of corn from my local bio store. My local potraviny is usually reliable for stocking fresh herbs all year round. This is important because fresh coriander (cilantro) is very necessary for the flavor combinations in this soup. Dice up two or three fresh tomatoes and you are set!

fresh koriander and tomatoes meet jalapenos

fresh coriander and tomatoes and diced jalapenos

As for the chicken, well you either have to boil or bake 2 breasts, shred when cooked and toss into your soup OR like I said earlier, roast a chicken one evening and before you boil the bones for stock, pick off the extra chicken meat and save for your soup.

Let's make soup!

Let’s make soup!

Once you have all the ingredients ready, throw it all in the soup pot and heat on low for 20-30 minutes.  Let the flavors simmer and make your home smell lovely. When you are ready to eat, cut a flour (or corn!) tortilla into strips and plop them into your bowl or cup of soup… Enjoy!

When Autumn falls… it’s time for chilli!

When the chill of the autumn air hits, it is time to start warming ourselves with soups and hot meals. Chilli is one of my favorite fall (and winter) foods. Chili is versatile and can be made for meat lovers or vegetarians. It is also a crowd-pleaser for a football gathering or on game night. You can dress chilli up with a variety of toppings such as cheddar cheese, sour cream, or jalapenos!  l prefer mine topped with a dollop of light sour cream and crunchy tortilla chips! What’s your favorite chili recipe? I would live to hear from you and possibly give your favorite recipes a try during this chilly-chilli season! Enjoy

It's Chilli time!

It’s Chilli time!

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 medium white onion, 2 medium red, bell peppers, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoons chilli powder (2 if you want is SUPER spicy!) , 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 + 1/2 teaspoons dried cumin, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 3 cans of whole tomatoes, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 small can of yellow corn, 2 large carrots, 1 cup fresh green beans.

additional ingredients: chopped, fresh cilantro (corriander), sour cream, cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, jalapenos, and/or tortilla chips

Directions: Heat oil over in a large, soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic and saute until onions soften. (about ten minutes) Mix in chilli powder, oregano, cumin and black pepper. Add tomatoes, carrots and green beans and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes.  Turn heat to low, add beans and corn and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready, ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings or dip a piece of bread and enjoy!

Simple Home-made Stock, Packed and Ready to Go! by L

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The site of our local Farmers’ Market. It was forced to cancel due to the flooding.

Recently, our beloved city of Prague was hit with severe flooding. Days and days of heavy rain caused the Vltava river to swell. The city officials were wise to react quickly and set up flood barriers in order to prevent any damage that could happen. Prague had already experienced such misfortune from the flood of 2002.

This past Sunday, as I was putting our daughters to bed, my husband suddenly entered the room. The girls were nearly asleep and I quickly got cross with him for disturbing their slumber. “I know,” he said, ” but someone from the city hall just rang our bell and said that we have to leave the building.”

We were aware of the flood warnings, but somehow didn’t really believe it could harm us. Unprepared for this moment, we quickly began to search for a place to stay and gather the most important items we would need for a few days. It was uncertain how long the streets in our neighborhood would be closed and when it would be possible to return.

Many thoughts and concerns began to race through my mind. They mostly focused on the welfare of our two little toddlers and in particular, what they would be eating over the next few days. Although we quickly found refuge at our dear friends’ home, I knew that living in unfamiliar territory would disrupt some of our tots routines; mainly their meal times. Did we have enough milk? Yogurt?Did I have enough broth?

The tots favorite bowl of soup.

The tots favorite bowl of soup.

Home-made broth is an important ingredient in my toddlers’ daily meal plan. They love soup. They especially love a bowl of soup filled with pasta, spinach and tofu. This is a meal that neither of my girls ever refuse. Luckily, when this slight emergency appeared at our front door, I had batches of this broth packed and ready to go. As a staple in our household, I make this simple stock on a weekly basis and store containers of it in my fridge and freezer. Lunch and dinner would not be a problem.

Simple ingredients for a simple stock.

Simple ingredients for a simple stock.

As for the flood, we were able to return to our home two days after we evacuated. In our neighborhood, our part of the river had reached an alarming level, but not enough to pour out into the streets and cause damage to the surrounding buildings. We were very fortunate, as other parts of the city had experienced much worse. The Vltava river reached has since reached its peak and all of Prague has slowly started to get its rhythm back. I am sure I am not alone in hoping that our future forecasts will predict nothing but sunny days ahead.

Simple, yet tasty stock!

Simple, yet tasty stock!

Chicken Stock (adapted from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen)

4 1/2 to 5 pounds (about 2 kilos) of Chicken parts or bones with some meat on them

4 quarts water

1 large onion

3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

2 1/2 teaspoons of salt (you can exclude this if making stock for young children)

Rinse and clean the chicken parts.

Get rid of all the loose pieces of fat.

In a large stockpot, place the bones and add the water.

Let it come to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop off the “scum” that sits on the top.

Then add the onion, ginger and salt.

Let it cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

When done, remove from the heat and let it cool down.

When ready, place a sieve over a large saucepan.

Pour or scoop the broth over the sieve.

Discard the bones, etc.

When the stock settles, you can discard the layer of fat that rises to the top.

This can be refrigerated for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

Soup with Pasta, Spinach and Tofu

2 cups of Chicken Stock

1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped (frozen spinach can be used too)

1/2 block of fresh tofu

2 handfuls of whole wheat tagliatelle or spaghetti noodles

Bring the stock to a boil.

Then bring it down to medium heat.

Add the tofu and spinach.

Then the pasta and simmer until all the ingredients are cooked through.

Season to taste.

Organic at your Door by L

P2020354

This week’s box of organic goodies.

During the winter season, I have come to rely on online shopping and free home delivery to do our grocery shopping. It’s not that I’m unable to brave the cold, but getting two toddlers zipped into their winter suits, schlepping a double stroller down the snowy sidewalks and then pushing it back with the additional weight of the grocery bags (which dangle or are stuffed in any available part of the stroller) makes what should be a simple task, a pain in the @$$!!

Fresh bedýnky has offered some comfort in that area of my life. They are a local organic food supplier that delivers great quality vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats and bread. They are also an excellent alternative to the big chain supermarkets. At this time of the year, the shelves can be scarce with appetizing produce. I end up paying a bit more for our food, but at least my bananas don’t show any signs of mold after 2 days of being in our home. Much of Fresh bedýnky’s items can also be found around Prague’s bio/organic food shops. However, instead of going out to do the shopping, I choose to spoil myself with the free home delivery because that means I get more time to play with my daughters.

P2020097

Signs of spring have begun to peek through winter’s haze and that means that the farmers markets will soon be a part of our lives again. We have been blessed with a few sunny days here in Prague, but winter continues to keep its cold grasp. So before it is time to start shedding off all those layers, here is one more recipe to ease those wintry chills.

Golden Broth (The Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup yellow split peas

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 quarts hot water

Saute onion, garlic and peas until brown.

Stir in turmeric and add water.

Let simmer for at least half hour.

Strain for a thin broth, puree for a thick one.

Golden Noodle Soup

2 quarts Golden Broth

handful of whole wheat noodles

1 cup each diced celery, potatoes, carrots

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Bring broth to a boil in a deep heavy pan.

In a non stick pan, saute vegetables in oil for 5-8 minutes.

Lower heat and allow broth to simmer.

Add vegetables and noodles.

Let cook for half hour.

Before serving, add parsley and adjust the seasonings.

Let’s get wild with rice and mushroom soup! By Nikki

fresh ingredients for fresh soup

fresh ingredients for fresh soup

If you are a Prague Basket reader who currently lives in Prague, you will understand when I say winter has taken a turn… not for the worse, but to a stand still! If you read from other places in the world, let me paint you a quick picture: this morning, we woke up to melted snow, streets glistening with the shimmer of a light rain, and a temperature that seems like Spring should be here tomorrow. But the weather reports say there will be more cold temperatures and another snowfall in our near future… it is like a weather yo-yo and it is only the last day of January.

Initially, when I saw the weather forecast for this week, I thought to myself, “oh no, we still have one more winter soup to feature!” But then as I sat on my couch for two days, feeling sorry for myself because of a head cold… I suppose it was fitting that I had to make soup for this post- despite the warmer weather.

Wild Rice and Mushroom soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom soup

The “wild” thing about this Wild Rice and Mushroom soup is that I made it vegetarian… usually I prefer to use a chicken stock in my soups, but for my vegetarian friends, I had to try this out in it’s pure veggie form. Well, guess what? I wasn’t disappointed! Despite my stuffy nose, my taste buds danced at the bursts of thyme, the remnants of the white wine, and the softness of the cooked mushrooms. Complimented with firm, cooked wild rice and the tangy flavor of the sour cream this soup is a new favorite. Now, I am not interested in skipping over seasons but I can imagine using this recipe during the Czech mushroom season in the late autumn… oooooooh, that is already tasting so good in my imagination.. can you tell I am “wild” about this recipe!?! Enjoy…

mushrooms, mushrooms, in the pan

mushrooms, mushrooms, in the pan

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

adapted from Oh My Veggies

 I can imagine using this soup recipe during the late fall mushroom season in the Czech Republic – yum!

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 c. celery, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
salt + pepper to taste
1/3 c. white wine
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 c. vegetable broth
1 c. cooked wild rice
3/4 c. reduced-fat sour cream
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Prepare rice according to directions on the package… this could take up to 1 hour!
  2. Heat olive oil in bottom of a medium soup pan on medium heat. Saute mushrooms, celery, carrots, and shallot until softened approx 5-7 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add white wine and thyme; increase heat to medium-high and cook 2 minutes more. (The flour might stick to the bottom of the pan but will release itself when soup broth is added later.)
  5. Add broth to pan and bring to a boil.
  6. Add cooked rice to the soup and stir in sour cream and parsley.
  7. Let simmer together for 5 minutes. You may need to use a whisk to mix up the sour cream- I did!
  8. Ladle into individual soup bowls and enjoy with a warm piece of bread slathered with butter- yum!

Gluten-Free French Onion Soup by Allison

Bubbly cheese covered bread on top of piping hot French onion soup, who wouldn’t want that meal for a great lunch out or even for dinner? I haven’t had French onion soup in over 2 years since I found out my about having Celiacs disease. It is pretty ironic that I grew up on a wheat farm where my Dad raised crops of wheat and barley for a large part of my life. Wheat, barley and rye or any form of them is an absolute  “no-no” for someone with Celiacs disease.  I even know the unforgettable scent of wheat when it turns that golden yellow right before harvest, that almost sweet and whole grain smell is very familiar. I can almost smell it right now if I transport myself back to the front porch of my parents’ house at the end of June or beginning of July (depending on the year) as the wheat fields ripen from a few hundred yards away. Believe me, I’m thankful that I don’t eat those grains as they make me sick and now I feel so much better overall. But there are some things I’ve certainly missed and French onion soup was one of them. No longer am I missing it though as I’m in creation mode and feel challenged to make an old favorite “gluten-free”.
onion

IMG_2675

I know mine is missing bubbly cheese on gluten-free bread but I think I need some new Polish pottery to make this soup even better. Soup bowls with a handle so you can place the bowl right in the oven to get the full affect of what is supposed to be traditional French onion soup. That’s it, it is officially added to the next shopping list I make for Polish pottery!

So here goes:

Gluten-Free French Onion Soup by Allison

Ingredients

8 onions, peeled and quartered

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

6 cups gluten-free vegetable or beef broth (I found mine at DM on Vodičkova here in Prague by the brand name ALNATURA)

2 fresh rosemary springs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 210 degrees C and arrange quartered onions on pan and brush with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until soft and partially caramelized. Roughly chop or use kitchen scissors to cut. Add onions to a large saucepan with wine and cook down until the wine evaporates. Add the broth and the rosemary and cook until flavors combine 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat. Serve with my gluten-free cornbread on top if you’d like  as well! Would be yummy!!! Enjoy!

Mommy and Me Miso Soup by L

Miso for my Munchkins and Me!

Miso for my Munchkins and Me!

When I was a little girl, my family attended church every Sunday. I never looked forward to going to church, but I sure did get excited about what came afterwards- lunch! Instead of big family dinners at Grandma’s house, we got to dine out. Who needs to be slaving over a stove and washing up a bunch of pots and dishes? It was Sunday. The Lord’s day. We all needed to rest and eat! When I say “WE,” I happen to mean my extended Filipino family of 9. When church was over, my granny, aunties, brothers, parents and I squeezed into our big blue van and headed to a restaurant.

Now that my brothers and I have grown up and moved out of the house, it’s great to see that this tradition still lives on. During our recent visit to NYC, we had plenty of Sunday lunches to catch up on and we made the best of every one of them. However, our whole family could no longer fit into my parents’ van. Over the years, a new generation of kids were born and spouses were added on. Our original party of 9 had expanded to a party of 15!

When the girls’ turned a year old, I was sad to see my babies become toddlers. Yet, one thing that is especially great about toddler hood is how the girls can eat practically anything I eat. So, when we went to dim sum, they feasted on congee, shu mai and shrimp rolls. When we had slices of New York pizza, they devoured the crusts and licked off the tasty tomato sauce! At our family’s favorite Japanese restaurant, they tried to eat sushi with chopsticks, but found that using their hands was a faster way to eat their cucumber rolls. They also delightfully slurped away at bowls of miso soup and I discovered their appreciation for this simple soup of fermented soy paste, sea veggies and tofu.

"I can do it all by myself, Mama!" T

“I can do it all by myself, Mama!” T

In fact, I wish I had thought of it sooner because it is one of the most simplest and tastiest soups to make. Oh, and of course, there are all the health benefits that come with it too!

This is miso soup from scratch, which is very simple to make. Truthfully, anything “instant” frightens me, but we all have to do what we have to do. If you keep reading on, you will find that making homemade miso soup is as simple as making oatmeal from scratch. (Reader- I hope you are making oatmeal from scratch 🙂 ) Miso soup and you might imagine: boiling water, ripping open a packet, pouring contents into a bowl, and with a swirl your soup is ready! Um… you are really missing out on something here. Yes, you still have to boil water, but with just a few simple additions, you can have a customized bowl of miso soup in your own home. Doesn’t everyone want something personalized and authentic these days?

"Seaweed is so much fun to play with, uh, I mean eat!" P

“Seaweed is so much fun to play with, uh, I mean eat!” P

I call this “Mommy and Me Miso Soup” because of the type of miso I used: white miso. This type is less salty than the others. Should I want to make a stronger pot miso for an adult palate, I tend to use a combination of brown and white miso and add a few more tablespoons.

Easiest broth you'll ever make!

Easiest broth you’ll ever make!

It all starts with the broth. You need some Dashi broth to get started and this is REALLY EASY! You just take strips of dried kombu and place it in a pot of cold water. Then leave it overnight. In the morning, your broth is ready to go. This really is a mama/papa friendly recipe! I sneaked in a few more vegetables such as shitake mushrooms and spinach to boost up the nutrients in our soup, but feel free to leave them out. It becomes an even simpler soup if you just stick to the wakame and tofu. Enjoy!

Miso Soup and More (adapted from Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Corinne Trang)

Konbu Dashi Broth:

1 package of about 2 oz. of Kombu.

2 quarts of cold water

With a damp paper towel, wipe the strips of Kombu.

Then place it in a big pot filled with cold water.

Let it sit for 12 hours or like I do,  overnight.

In the morning, the dried sea vegetable will have expanded and your broth is ready!

Remove the kelp (you can use slice it up and use it in a stir-fry with vegetables) and follow the miso recipe.

P2020058

Just a few simple ingredients found at my local organic bio shop.

Miso Soup:

8 cups of Konbu Dashi

1/4 cup of Wakame (this needs to be soaked prior to using it in the soup. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain)

1 block of tofu, cut into tiny cubes

3 tablespoons (more if just for mama and papa) white miso paste

2 scallions, sliced thinly,

6 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/2 cup of spinach leaves

Set aside 1 cup of broth.

Place the rest of the broth in a deep pot.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat.

Add the mushrooms, wakame and tofu.

Let it cook for 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the miso paste with the remaining bowl of dashi.

Add spinach and check if the mushrooms are tender.

When ready, stir the miso paste into the soup and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

Do not let the miso paste cook any longer than that or you will lose all of its healthy benefits!

Pour into bowls and garnish with scallions.

Enjoy with your favorite lil’ person!

Sweet Pea Soup with Carrots and White Beans… yes, peas! By Nikki

Sweet Pea Soup for the Soul!

Sweet Pea Soup for the Soul!

Have you noticed a a theme in our recent posts…? As Allison mentioned in her last post, we are in the full swing of winter here in Praha. It is cold outside and naturally it is the best time for warm, winter soups! We at the Prague Basket have dedicated the month of January to soup… we hope one of these recipes finds it’s way into your kitchen this month! Stay warm and enjoy…

peas, peas, peas

peas, peas- yes please!

 Green Pea Soup with Carrots and White Beans

adapted from Cooking Light

This is a Sunday soup- a labor of love some might say! You will need time and patience to prepare… but it is worth it! So put on your favorite tunes, sing along and at the end you will enjoy the fruits (er.. soup!) of your labor!

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons butter, 1 cup coarsely chopped green onions, 4 cups shelled green peas (about 4 pounds un-shelled), 2 carrots, chopped, 1 can of white beans, 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, (Substitute 3 cups of vegetable broth for vegetarian based soup), 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, Cracked black pepper (optional)

Note: I made my own, fresh chicken broth by boiling 3 chicken breasts with 4 bay leaves, salt, pepper, 1 medium onion, and 2 cloves of garlic, chopped. Boil for 20 minutes, strain and use broth for soup.

DSC05831

Homemade, fresh chicken stock

Directions:

   Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onions and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until peas are very tender. Remove pan from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

While the soup sits, use 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan. Lightly saute carrots until tender. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Place half of the pea mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the pureed soup mixture into a large bowl. Repeat this process until all the pea mixture is blended well. Pour half of pureed soup mixture through a sieve over a large bowl, reserving the liquid. Return liquid to pureed soup mixture and discard the pea skins.

Return the soup liquid to the soup pan, add the white beans and sauteed carrots and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve in bowls with a dash of pepper… preferably with your favorite bread!

Enjoy!

 

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Broken Hearted by L

Image

My Mama’s Chicken Noodle Soup, excellent with Allison’s Cornbread!

“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.”

All you need is...

All you need is…

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!

A cure for the broken heart: Chicken Noodle Soup

A cure for the broken heart: Chicken Noodle Soup

Mama’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Broth:

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.

Set aside.

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!