Mom’s Chicken Soup

Can We ever make our parents happy?

Lord knows we try. After all, we only have one mother and one father. Unless you’re married, then you have in-laws to add to the list. Some of my Jewish friends talk about the “Jewish guilt” they have endured by their parents, specifically their mothers. “What’s the matter….you don’t call? I never hear from you. I forget sometimes I have a son/daughter. When am I going to see you again, in two years?  That’s ok, I’d rather be alone, you go and have a good time,  I’ll just stay home with your father. That’s OK, I’m used to it.” When I hear their stories I think to myself, my Jewish friends don’t own that guilt trip. My mother has them beat hands down.
 My mother dishes out guilt like a short order cook dishes out hash browns and eggs at the Bendix Diner. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. I just wish I could convince her of that!

I don’t think it has anything to do with race or religion. It’s that European thing and the struggles each group endured and grew up with. Many came or escaped to this country to have the freedoms they couldn’t enjoy in their home country. They both struggled and made a life for themselves and their families and worked really hard to find those “streets that were paved in gold”…the reality was, they had to pave it themselves.

Now, how do struggling Europeans tie in with an over bearing Mother? I’m no psychiatrist, but maybe it comes from the fear of loss or separation, a need to be involved in every aspect of their child’s life. Their world revolves around us and in turn, they expect the same from us.
Allow me to illustrate. About 7 years ago I was visiting my friend Ned  in Florida. On my trip home my  connecting flight from Atlanta was cancelled. So I put myself on a waiting list for flights that were leaving every half hour to Newark, where I had my car parked.
My mother had my full itinerary, flight numbers,  time of departure, time of arrival, meal or no meal flights, etc. You know, she had to have my itinerary because, God forbid, if my plane ever crashed she would be able to stop it.  And like the Air Traffic Controllers in the flight tower, my mother was able to track my every move.
After an hour of waiting for the next available flight a message came over the airport PA system: “Will Peter Bocchieri please go to the courtesy phone at the customer service desk”. I thought I heard my name so I looked up from my book and listened more attentively to the second message, “Will Peter Bocchieri please go to the courtesy phone at the customer service desk”.
What the message should have announced, because in the background this is what I really heard, “Hello Peeta….this is you Mutha. Don’t worry sweetheart, I have everything under control and will get you home safely”.
I was just being paranoid. It couldn’t be. For some reason I put on my sunglasses.
I walked over to the customer service phone and as I picked up the phone I glanced over my shoulder to be sure that whoever was on the other side of that call was not within six feet of me to identify me. “Hello? this is Peter Bocchieri.”   I think the customer service rep was a little surprised to hear the voice of a 48-year-old man. She thought the person responding to the page would be a 10-year-old child that was traveling alone..”Peter, this is Delta customer service and we have been in touch with your mother. She was concerned that your flight was cancelled and booked you on the 12:30 flight to Kennedy Airport”.
I looked over my shoulder again and in total embarrassment I said, “That really isn’t necessary, I’m already on a waiting list for the next available flight to Newark where my car is parked. Can you please cancel that flight to Kennedy?” “The Delta rep was being professional and told me that would be no problem, but in her voice I could hear her thinking “boy, does this guy have an overbearing mother. I wonder if she still tucks him in at night!”
As I hung up the phone it dawned on me what if the customer service rep cancelled my standby status because she booked me on a scheduled flight. I was being paranoid again. I went back over to the customer service desk and found out I was still on standby and they assured me they would call me when the next available flight had a seat.
Thank goodness I took care of that. Now my thoughts turned to my mother. I was livid. How could she do this? Why would she do this? How can I allow her to do this?… Like I had a choice. I calmed myself down and went to the bar that was nearby and had a glass of wine. I did not want to call her in my current mental state and say something that I would be sorry for.
I dialed my mother as I took another gulp of wine. She answered. “Hello”. “Mom, it’s me.”  “Peeta, did you hear from the airline people?” “I heard from them mom.” “Oh, they were so nice and helpful. She sounded like such a nice woman. I wish you would meet somebody like that. I make novenas every day that you would meet somebody like that.”  “Yes mom, she was nice”  “Did you meet her?” “No mom, I was paged. On the airport PA system. The ENTIRE AIRPORT PA SYSTEM. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND???? DO YOU THINK I”M STILL A CHILD. I’VE NEVER BEEN MORE  EMBARRASED!!!
“Why were you embarrased? I was only helping!  That’s what I get for thinking of you”.  Guilt…..guilt…..guilt.
 

I really know she can’t help herself. And NOTHING I could say will cause her to see this situation from any other perspective. In her mind she was just helping out. Taking care of her child. That is what she lives for. That is why I got married and moved to Rockland County at 20 years old. Maybe that’s why my Uncle, my mother’s brother, joined the army and lived halfway around the world.  Maybe Rockland County wasn’t far enough.

Chicken soup. Nothing makes you think more of home and mother than chicken soup. It’s warm, comforting and taste awfully good. This is my mother’s recipe for chicken soup. I’ve included a few different variations that all start with the basic recipe. From that there are two different versions she used to make. All three are delicious. Once you have the basic recipe made you can make the other ones from the left over soup. This soup freezes well, and when I make it I always freeze a few quarts. They are great to have on hand when you need that extra pick me up or when you come down with a cold. Nothing makes you feel better than hot chicken soup.

BASIC CHICKEN SOUP RECIPE

  • one whole chicken, rinsed. Be sure the package inside the chicken’s body cavity is removed. Save the giblets to put in the soup
  • 5 stalks of celery, rinsed
  • 6 carrots, peeled and rinsed
  • 3 medium onions
  • a handful of fresh flat leaf parsly, rinsed
  • 1 large potato, peeled
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic, mashed
  • Ditalini pasta added when soup is done

Fill a large soup pot with 6 quarts of cold water. Place pot on high flame and bring to a boil.

In the meantime prepare your vegetables. Cut the cellery in half and leave the tops on. Peel carrots and cut off the tops and tips. Leave carrots whole. Peel the potato and onions. Leave the potato whole and cut the onions in half.

Once the water comes to a full boil add all of the ingredients except the chicken and pasta. This prevents soup scum from forming. It’s not harmful but it doesn’t look very nice. Once the water returns to a full boil carefuly add the entire chicken and rinsed giblets. If there is too much water in the pot, laddle some out. Once the chicken is in you want to leave about a half inch of head space so your soup doesn’t boil over. Cover and simmer on medium-low flame for one hour.

After an hour shut off flame. Carefully remove the chicken and place in a dish to cool. Remove the carrots and potato and place in another dish to cool.

In a second pot, at least as large as the first pot, press the remaining vegetables thru a strainer into the second pot to extract all their flavor. Discard the pressed vegetables.

Carfuly strain the stock into the second pot to remove the peppercorns and rest of the ingredients and any small bones that might have come loose from the chicken. Laddle it through the strainer.

You now have a pot of great chicken stock. Skin and bone the chicken and cut into bite sized pieces and add to the stock.

Roughly mash the carrots and potato with a potato masher and add to the stock. Add a tablespoon of salt or to taste.

I never add the pasta to the entire batch of soup. For every 2 quarts of soup I add 1/2 cup of Ditalini pasta and cook for 11 minutes. If you were serving the entire pot of soup you can add 1 – 1/2 cup of Ditalini pasta and cook till done. If you are afraid you might not have enough broth you can always cook the pasta in water then add the drained pasta to the soup.  Serve with grated cheese.

Chicken Soup With Tiny Meatballs

Follow recipe for Basic Chicken Soup, minus the pasta.

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 oz whole milk
  • 2 oz  (about 1 cup) grated Romano cheese
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 6 fresh basil leaves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  •  fresh ground black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients thouroughly with your hands  in a large bowl.  If mixture seems a little loose add more bread crumbs.

Pick off about a teaspoon of the meat mixture and roll into tiny meatballs. Add to the soup that is simmering. Cook for 10 minutes.

For ever 2 quarts of soup served add 1/2 cup of  Ditalini pasta and cook till done, about 11 minutes. Serve with grated cheese.

Chicken Soup with Pastina and Tiny Meatballs

Follow the recipe for Basic Chicken Soup with Tiny Meatballs without adding pasta. To every 2 quarts of soup add 3/4 cup of Pastina and cook for five minutes. Serve with grated cheese.

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About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. When Peter is not out selling, he is relaxing at his Rockland County home and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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3 Responses to Mom’s Chicken Soup

  1. Pingback: Italian Wedding Soup | cookingitaliancomfortfood

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Another wonderfully simple yet incredibly delicious recipe!
    Thank you!

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