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Comfort In Tradition

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…   It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”  
- Vivian Greene


Recently I’ve been thinking about comfort.
The word it’s self is just jam packed loaded down with ideas, refrences and interpertations.
What brings each of us comfort is SO varied. About the only thing that we all can truely agree upon when speaking of comfort, is that we all know what it’s like to be UNcomfortable. Rarly are we given to fully express our joy when we’re comfortable. It’s not like when I wake up on the right side of the bed, we need to throw a block party, order a bouncy house and line up for the parade. When I wake up cross from the start, oh trust me, we all long to be back to the comfy place. ;)
I find myself appreciating the small comforts in life when I fall into our cozy air mattress when camping. When I toss ingredients into my stand mixer, I’m so grateful for those physical comforts that make life easier to traverse. I don’t know about you but when I haven’t slept on a box of rocks, I could traverse dang near anything. :)
It’s easier to identify needs that bring us comfort. Water, food, shelter sustain our bodies and allow us to move forward.
What gives our hearts peace and comfort?
My air mattress wont sooth a aching heart, nor will shopping, drinking or eating a whole cheesecake… Where does our souls go to rest and reboot? What brings us comfort?
I believe that we all need to do what is right for us as individuals, while keeping in mind that no amount of our uncomfort is cause to inflict discord in others lives. We need to be uncomfortable so that we may grow and seek out those things that truely make us great. To me cope and comfort are soul sisters. I have to learn to cope in the best productive way for me so that I may find comfort. If you get to cope, comfort is right around the bend. Writing, cooking and connecting with those I love are my tools for copeing. No matter what comes down the pike, I now own a set of skills to manage and thrive. It took years to get there but I’m finding what gives me comfort and honoring those things that help to bring peace in the middle of the storm.
This week our family lost a Grandma/Great Grandma. It’s incrediably special that our children not only have awesome Grandparents but Great Grandmas too! While our hearts are sad at the loss of a beautiful woman, we celebrate such a long rich life that allowed us to become the people we are today. Without these women, you and I would never have arrived to challenge this planet. ;)
Unfortunatly, our children have lost many family members in the last few years so these waters are well charted. We sat them down to break the news. They ask such amazing and clearly thought out questions. We find that in these small moments of crisis and grief that we learn and grow as a family. We started talking about who we are is the legacy we leave behind. They knocked my socks off and I am so humbled that these sweet spirits call us their parents. Kenzie curled up next to me and whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry, if anything happens to you, I’ll make the chicken soup.”
OK, so I cried… I seem to do that often and unprovoked. ;) She’s been making that soup with me since she could stand. They all have and most of these kiddos could show you a thing or two in the kitchen. I enjoy their company and really didn’t think about the long term effects of such a practice. If being the family food pusher is the legacy I leave behind, I’ve done well. My people will all be able to feed their families on a dime and do it with full flavor and flair!
In honor of what brings comfort and because it’s going to be my legacy ;) … I submit to you,
University Chicken Soup
(AKA I can’t cook a dang thing to save my life, far away from the family table, need some home cooking AND I have hardly any $ to spend on it… GO!)
My chicken soup or matzo ball soup that I make often is a longer process from making my own stock through noodles… that doesn’t bring comfort to someone who isn’t kitchen savvy, yet. University Chicken Soup is the streamed lined approach and will be a excellent base to jump off for yourself as you get creative. My girlfriend was sending her son off to school and asked me for some one pot, crockpot and cheap recipes. He LOVES my soup so University Chicken Soup came to be. Here we go…
You will need:
A stove (or burner, I’ve made this while camping it just takes forever)
A good size soup pot ( must hold 10 cups comfortably)
Chicken Broth

Next best thing… canned chicken broth. I’ll use 2 of the large cans if I’m making a HUGE pot but one will usually cover ya.

 

Can we all agree that a tasty broth is what makes a good chicken soup? Don’t rush for the big can… sometimes the better buy is in the smaller cans. Often our .99 cent store will have brand name broths 2 for .99. Remember, we’re making a buck go for a long ride here… every pinched penny helps! Broth should set you back $3.75 or LESS. Less is best! Put your pot on your stove, adding your chicken broth, turn your heat to medimum… we’re just getting started! Fill your large can up with tap water just over half way and dump it in your pot too. Or add 3 small cans of water to your pot. Such a small amount of water wont kill your favor but will help to streach this recipe a little more.

Onion

I got some diced onions at Fresh and Easy in their 2 day section for less than the onion I had in my cart. Yes, please… now I don’t have to cry about it. ;)

 

There are many choices when it comes to onions. Onions could be their own post all together! I wont waste the money on an expensive onion, unless I’m making onion rings, blossoms or I really need a sweeter special flavor. This soup requires a plain cheap ol’ onion. I favor yellow as the sales are wicked for them and really we want that hearty flavor. Cheap onion? .69 cents or less. Rule of thumb: tennis ball or smaller sized onion. I like about 1 cup to get tossed into my broth. Let your broth and onion simmer and grab…

garlic

In college, you may not have use of a fridge. Pre crushed garlic would not do you any good if you couldn’t make use of the whole container over time. It’s less than $4 to purchase but it will drive up the cost of one pot of soup. There is an art to working with fresh garlic but don’t be afraid to buy a clove and go to town! Lawry’s garlic salt will help to enrich your flavor too. I LOVE garlic so naturally it belongs in my soup. If it doesn’t float your boat, that’s OK too. Going sans garlic will only take a flavor layer away. Not everyone is quite so garlic passionate as I. I’ll forgive you but if you’d like, add a healthy teaspoon for garlic to your onions and broth in your pot. We’re making flavor here!

Of course… can’t forget my favorites!

 

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Garlic Salt are my kitchen staples. Yes, you can find knock off brands that will do for a little cheaper but Lawry’s by far is the BEST of the best! Of course we need a little pepper too. Forgive me, I’m a dash of this kinda lady so exact measurments hurt my soul. Best I can do for you here my darlings is to explain “shake counts”. I left to right, shake my pepper 3 times. My broth will be lightly sprinkled in little dots. Garlic salt and seasoned salt get 3 shakes each too. Less is more to start… we’ll be savoring the flavors in a few and will add more if it begs us to.

Got Broth?

 

Now turn up the heat until your pot comes to a boil. Let your ingrenience have a flavor party for the next 10 minutes while we prep the rest. This allows everything to fall in love and blend together. Yum! There’s love in everything we do!

Cheater Chicken

Cheater Chicken= chicken bought from your store’s deli section or in a can.

 

I call it cheating because it cuts your process in half. You can find chunks of fresh chicken in your deli section of some stores or buy one of their whole roasted chickens and chunk it into your soup. They also sell canned chicken but I find that it is more expensive and less tasty to use canned. Your chicken should cost less than $6.

Carrots

Mama says eat more veggies! Carrots are good for the eyes!

 

Baby carrots are great to just toss right in. Shreds are awesome for those that don’t love a lot of carrot in one bite. Shreds are the more expensive choice $1.98. Baby carrots and whole fresh carrots run neck and neck in price at .99- $1.35. You may also use a can or two of canned carrots. The canned carrots don’t have the same texture. Baby carrots are slightly sweeter. I’ve used all and lived to tell about it. ;)  I happened to have a bag of shreds. If using whole carrots, peel 2 larger or 4 small carrots and cut them into carrot coins and toss them into your pot. Careful that they are not super thin or huge pieces. Think that we’re going to be eating it with a spoon not a fork and knife. ;)

Celery

Celery tutorial: No one wants those blasted strings that eating celery brings! I grab 3 pieces of celery, wash them, break the bottom off by putting pressure from the inside out. When I say inside… picture celery as a u shape. Your going to turn your u into an n and then keep pulling, allowing the strings to slide right off the backside. Repeat the u n thing at the top at well. Cut your celery into your desired size. Again big chunks are not easy to eat and super small pieces won’t give the color or texture we’re looking for. Cut it how you would like to eat it and you can’t go wrong. Add your celery in too!

You can stop right here and let your soup sit and cook down together, reducing your heat just slightly over medimum. Enough to keep your pot bubbling away still. OR you can add two more veggies that we find to be a comforting familler flavor. 

Parsnip and Parsley

Don’t sass me! Parsley is so much more than a garnish and we’ll not be knockin’ my funky white carrot looking parsnip either, thank you. :)

 

Parsley and parsnips make my matzo ball soup, which is exactly like chicken soup but with an extra yummy ball made from matzo meal. Jewish Penicellin… the cure for all. I have dreams about my Mother in Law’s matzo ball soup! I could live on it, swim in a vat of it and be happy for the rest of my days. What does she do that I didn’t (besides make perfect matzo balls so light and fluffy while mine are like hockey pucks)? Parsnip and parsley. It adds such rich layers of flavor! I grab 1 parsnip for .99 or less, chop 5 big chunks out of it and toss it into the pot. I’ll add a palm of my hand size amount of parsley as well. Parsley is usually under .99 for a huge bunch. Your going to fish out both your parsley and parsnip before serving. I’ll add stem and all, makes it easier to find later on. A little parsley left inside the soup when serving is totally fine. Parsnip is a bit bitter to bite into so I make sure to nab my pieces out after everything has cooked down. Adding this step will only enhance a good thing. Leaving it out is fine too, you’ll live but you’ll feel guilty about it. ;)

Here’s the big tricky part. Are you scared yet? You shouldn’t be, my 10 year old can do this by herself… you can too.

Let your pot cook away for about 20 minutes. Nothing in there sticks so don’t worry, stirring often is not a requirement. The tricky part is just making sure your veggies are done. At the 20 minute mark, take your ladle or spoon and pull out a large chunk of carrot, celery and broth. Try it. Your teeth should be able to cut through it like butter. If you feel like it’s too firm, you’ll be cooking it another 10 minutes anyways. How is your broth? If it has the rich flavor you desire, your good to go. You may find the need to add another shake or 2 of your spices right now. I caution you to not go too heavy. You may always add to your own bowl but perhaps others arn’t the pepper or salt person your feeling at the moment.

If everything is just the way you like it. Remove your parsnip and parsley and add your noodles.

You can use a nice Egg Noodle BUT they tend to be over $2.00 per bag. These are the chunky noodles we may have grown up with.

 

Ramen Noodles… fess up you know you lived on these suckers a time or two!

 

For the frugal penny pincher… look no further than Top Ramen for your .25 cent noodle option! Sure an egg noodle looks lovely but a Ramen Noodle isn’t half bad either. I crack my brick of noodle into four pieces and drop it into my pot. If you feel like you need to add another can of water because your broth is shrinking, do so now.

Your soup is done as soon as your noodles are ready!

Look out! You’ll be feeling like a million bucks in no time! Yummy!

 

 

Make this a meal served with a favorite crouton or loaf of bread. You can get a cheap french, italian or bagette from most markets. Heck, a nice slice of toat will do beautifully!

Now you can’t say you can’t cook. This is a totally dump it and heat home cooked meal. One pot of soup will last all 6 of us a couple of meals. It cost less than $15! Impress your dorm peeps. Make this for your sick boyfriend/girlfriend/loved one. Lift your spirits and make your space smell wonderful. Make $15 feed you for DAYS! Remember, when we cook we must do it with all the love and care we can muster and it will show in the finished product. A heaping cup of LOVE put into everything you do will always be the ingredient that made all the diffrence in the world!

That’s why Grams soup tastes so special and why my kids love mine too… Love, tradition and practice.

I find comfort when under diress to retreat to my kitchen and then forceably feed everyone and the mail man who walks through the door. Making chicken soup is like a beautiful waltz that I could do in my sleep. The repetitive motions,  the swirling smells of each and every indredient filling my nose and breaking down all that ails my heart. The finished product is a gift that I share with my family. Something that brings us together, allows us to fuel our body, mind and spirit around out kitchen table. I charish the moments when I can look into these sweet faces over the rising steam of a big bowl full of comfort.

Yes Kenzie, I would love nothing more than for you to be the keeper of the soup. The time will come when we too will pass the torch. Through her simple words I learned that even though I am a work in progress and still trying to find what gives my soul comfort… My life, who I am and our family traditions are what comforts my family.

If my life’s legacy is bringing comfort (and soup), it was worth it. :)

Hugging our kiddos extra tight tonight. Grateful for this life we have together.

Be good to each other, we only get one shot at this life, make it count!

Dancing in the Rain… again,

Meg xoxo

 

 

 

 

 


 

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1 comment

  1. Mary

    This is great. Just came across your blog on top mommy blogs!

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