I’ve been thinking a lot about healing — physically, mentally, universally. When we are physically sick, we announce it, we rest, we let our friends and family take care of us. When we are mentally weary, many of us internalize it, ignore it or try to work through it at our own pace. And universally, there are collective stories or events that inspire and move us — some are spoken and shared and recorded throughout history while others are quickly forgotten.
Healing is the best part of the process — it means you’ve reached the end. Whatever ailments you’ve endured, if you reached the healing stage, it means you’re ready to get better. “Healing is letting go of the hopes of the past,” says Iyanla Vanzant. How very true!
I can’t remember how many times I’ve made chicken soup to help my friends heal. Sometimes, I drop off containers of soup as a surprise and scurry away. In most cases, I bring everything, pot, chicken, vegetables and all and cook in someone else’s kitchen. I can recall evenings where Heather was bundled up in a blanket, Jen was in her pajamas on a bar stool or Ron would lie on the couch, while I stood nearby, cutting vegetables, washing the chicken and stirring the soup.
During the cooking process, we always talk, sharing stories of healing. They could be funny stories, like childhood memories or goofball moments, or sometimes deeper stories are shared about experiences that have shaped us into the people we are today. By the time these stories end, the soup will be done, bowls will be served and the healing process is already in full swing.
The following is my chicken soup recipe that has been a part of the healing process on so many occasions. The variable in this recipe is the starch — sometimes it’s hearty dumplings, or dainty egg noodles or chunky ditalini tubes. Usually, it’s whatever my friends, their hearts and stomachs desire. I suppose cooking and healing are very similar in that the process can change, the outcomes can be different, but it’s something no one has to do alone.
Healing Chicken Soup
4 chicken legs (bone in, skin on)
4 carrots, cut into small circles
4 celery stalks, small dice
1 yellow onion, small dice
4 sprigs of fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Wash the chicken thoroughly and place in the bottom of a heavy stockpot or casserole. Add the vegetables, parsley sprigs, thyme and bay leaves and enough cold water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for one hour.
- With tongs, remove the parsley sprigs and discard. Carefully remove the cooked chicken and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove meat, keeping pieces in large chunks. Discard skin and bones.
- With a ladle, skim off fat from the broth. Add the chicken stock to the broth and adjust seasonings to taste. Return chicken to the broth and cook until warmed through.
- Serve with dumplings, noodles or fresh bread. Garnish with chopped parsley.