Posts Tagged ‘chicken soup’


My grandmother, on my father’s side, Paula or Pavica for short, used to love to grow geraniums in a long flower pot on the ledge by the front door of her house in Zagreb. She also grew colorful pansies, fuchsia magellanica in a hanging pot, and mirabilis four o’clock in her summer garden on the island Silba, where the sweet scented annual became a perennial in the dry arid soil and scorching summer heat.  She often wore an apron, over a house dress that fit well over her large bosomy frame.  She liked to make her own dresses, probably could not find ones in stores that fit her.  She often made wholesome chicken soup, fried chicken, floating islands for dessert, cucumber salad with sour cream, and always green salads from grandpa’s vegetable garden.  She spent every morning prepping the food and cooking lunch for herself, grandpa and often my younger brother and myself.  Sundays we often ate at her house with my parents as well.  The chicken soup was intoxicating, the dumplings made from yellow egg yolks, chicken fat, parsley, bits of chicken liver and corn farina, chewy but tender and perfectly salted. The chicken pieces floated in the soup accompanied with bits of carrot and a sprinkling of parsley.  It was always served in a large antique ceramic soup bowl with a lid and a large ladle. She had daily migraines that would keep her in bed until 11 AM every morning, propped up on large soft pillows, she would sit in her bed with a blackout mask over her eyes.  Her life seemed easy but she had endured   a lot before I was even born.   An abusive alcoholic father, early death of a favorite brother, a schizophrenic child she gave birth to, a career as an opera singer that never blossomed, a husband who snored very loudly and by necessity slept in another bedroom, and was a bit of a ladies man.

She used food to nourish herself, physically she was obviously not undernourished but she loved to cook and eat well.  Her joy came out through cooking, and sharing her cooking with her family.  Flowers were another way she expressed joy and I remember how she plucked the dry stems, pruning the geraniums with slow tender care.  She never grew more than a few flower pots at a time but looking back now I think it was because she could not care for more than that, and their physical proximity to the house enabled her to stay close to the kitchen where things might be bubbling away, in need of attention and tweaking.

She also loved to simultaneously knit and watch the world news while wearing her spectacles for the close up hand work and peering over them for seeing the television. She loved to stay informed about world events as much as she loved to cook and knit.  I was about seven when she showed me how to take a precut clothing pattern from the German magazine Burda, lay it on a piece of fabric and cut a dress from it.  Then how to sew it on her foot operated non-electrical Singer sewing machine, piece by piece day by day, sometimes weeks in.  It felt great to have her spend time with me, teaching me things that seemed magical and adult like.

here is a chicken soup recipe I like:

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

adapted from the Second Avenue Deli recipe for matzoh Ball Soup

6 quart pot

4 quarts waters

6 chicken drumsticks, skin on

1 chicken backbone or other leftover bones

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

half a red onion, quartered

1/2 fresh tomato

2 bay leaves

bring to a boil and cook broth for 45 minutes on low heat

turn off fire and cool off chicken, pull apart into pieces.

take all vegetables out of the stock and discard

put in 1 carrot,  cut into 1/2 inch cubes

beat up 2 eggs in medium bowl

add 1/4 cup minus 3 tbsp corn oil

1/2 cup unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon dry or fresh dill



mix it all up with a whisk

scoop out and gently drop each dumpling into simmering broth with a small oiled teaspoon, let cook for 5 minutes and then turn off flame.

season broth with 1/2 teaspoon Vegeta and 1/2 teaspoon chicken buillon (Maggie)

add more salt and pepper as needed


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