Each week I take time to figure out what I want to share with you all here and sometimes I take a browse through the archives either for inspiration or to check that my ideas don’t already live somewhere in the catalog of 300 plus posts. So when a craving for chicken noodle soup hit I did a double check because surely I’ve already shared a recipe for this warm and cozy classic. But what was supposed to be a quick check and see turned into a trip down memory lane.
And as I clicked through the recipes I discovered two things. One, I haven’t yet shared a chicken noodle soup and, two, I’ve been building this blog for almost eight years. It’s hard to believe. I went searching for chicken noodle soup, but instead I got lost in old posts written by someone who sounded like an old friend who I haven’t seen in years. Everything she wrote about sounded familiar, I remember most of it, but all of it felt like it happened a million years ago. It felt distant.
And it felt like a lot was missing. I mean, I’ve lived a lot since 2009. Relationships have come and gone, I packed up and moved three times, and worked for four different companies. I traveled to China, India, Philippines and Europe and not always gracefully. I road shot gun on the Road to Hana in Hawaii and hiked up to the top of the Eagle’s Nest in Germany and lived to tell both stories. I drank a lot of wine and ate a lot of delicious food. I’ve made friends, lost friends, and welcomed a sweet dog into my life. I’ve loved a lot and spent more than a few nights crying my eyes out.
In other words, it’s been a whirlwind.
But I don’t see a whole lot of the living I did in those old posts. I caught glimpses of it, a lone post here and there that feels vulnerable and real. But mostly they feel sort of flat. Like they were written by a girl who wasn’t so comfortable in her own skin and afraid to expose the deeper parts of herself. The stuff she loved or feared didn’t often make it to the page. On the surface, I started this blog to share recipes, but another quiet desire was lingering in the shadows. A desire to find my voice, to share my real self, and build a space for all the thoughts about food and life rattling around in my head. The recipes have come fast and easy since the beginning, but the rest of it has taken a while. I think I’m getting there, but it feels fragile. I guess because vulnerability is scary.
But when I decided to leave my job in December, six difficult months after my break-up, I made a promise to myself: I would dig deep, be open, and share the real stuff even when it feels awkward and scary. Like today, for example. I mean, even now there’s a whisper, “stick to chicken noodle soup, no one care about that other stuff!”
But the other stuff matters to me. It’s always been about more than just recipes. It’s just taken me a while to embrace it.
Chicken Noodle Soup
But all the change feels like a scratchy sweater sometimes. It turns my neck all red and itchy and the best balm I’ve found is to cook something comforting and familiar. So, I made chicken noodle soup.
And the soup brought me back to the here and now. Sometimes thinking about the past is like an undertow that carries you until you no longer have your footing and you’re left treading water and ruminating over things that can’t be changed. For me, chopping vegetables, browning chicken, and stirring a simmering soup is one way to tow myself out of the deep end of the past. To cook I have to be in the moment. Being in the moment helps me break free of the undertow.
And sitting down with a warm bowl of steaming soup with juicy bites of chicken, tender carrots, and soft noodles in a flavorful broth brightened with a squeeze of lemon is like a warm hug. It’ll cure what ails you, bring peace to your heart, and provide comfort if you’ve been caught in the undertow.
Chicken Noodle Soup
It’s no secret that boxed chicken stock is no match for homemade, but I find that browning bone-in skin on chicken breasts in some oil and butter and sauteing the vegetables in the browned bits left behind adds a boost to otherwise boring boxed chicken stock. The soup is hearty with a deep flavor that’s brightened with a squeeze of fresh lemon before serving.
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