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Let Them Eat Chicken Soup

Nov 6, 2009
Kimmy Sophia Brown

My sixteen year old son came home from school three days ago and announced, “I can’t breathe.” He pointed to his schnoz. Actually, what he said was more like, “I cad breave. I hab a code in by doze.”

With the change of the seasons, often comes the pursuit of and escape from the common cold. It seemed to me we had just finished the transition from summer to fall, and now we’re on the brink of winter. We live around a mile from the Fore River, in Portland, Maine. The closer to water you live, the less snow there is. But as I stood on my front steps this morning I saw flakes of snow mixed in with the rain that was pouring down. Then, as I drove my son to school, cars approaching from the west had two inches of snow on them. “So it begins,” I muttered to myself.

When I realized that my son was sick, I started chopping garlic, ginger, green onions, leeks, onions, potatoes and carrots. I put our soup pot on the stove with organic chicken soup starter and threw in some frozen chicken pieces.  After an hour, the pot was exuding savory fragrances. I ladled a bowl for Tadin and beseeched him to partake. The steam wafted into his facial orifices and he slurped the same type of soup I’ve made for my children for lo, these many years.

What is it about chicken soup? Every family probably has their own unique recipe. Some have turnips and parsnips, some call for an entire kosher chicken. There is some secret, mysterious ingredient in chicken soup that makes it a healing soup. But the specific ingredient is elusive. It reminds me of when I was a child and washed dishes at my mother’s bidding. She appealed to me to use more elbow grease, but when I searched the cabinet under the sink, none could be found. Kind of like that!

Even though I’ve heard that there are healing properties actually present in the chicken, I think a lot of the healing comes from the intent of the cook.

How many mothers, going back in time, chopped and cooked with concern for their sick families? I don the apron of history, and wield the spoon of love as my soup pot boils. Funny, how my mind wanders as I stir a pot. I look into the beauty of the broth, and see the herbs and vegetables doing their part and ponder where wishes carry me.

I sometimes think of all the people in history with whom I wish I could have shared this soup. I think of people in their war-torn countries. Places like Russia, Eastern and Western Europe after the world wars, Japan and Korea, concentration camps, orphanages. I think of the weary, freezing civilians, soldiers, prisoners, victims -- dressed in rags, in freezing buildings, with no wood to burn, and no candles and no blankets, no light, no warmth and nothing in the cupboards. I want to put on wings and I want to fly to them, and deliver into their hands a huge bowl of hot soup, that magically refills whenever they need it. For every hungry man, woman and child - every cold person, every hungry person. For every neglected, forgotten, starved, hopeless, penniless person. And the dogs and cats too. I wish I could go back in history and visit all of them, who needed to know that they weren’t forgotten -- that somebody loved them and wanted to help keep them warm and healthy.

I know I can’t fix the problems of the world. There are so many political viewpoints, religious ones, sociological ones. But hunger and food cuts through it all.  I wish I could be a soup angel, and fly through history and continents, just feeding everyone. With my pot that is never empty.

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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