Naively, I believed the chicken soup my mother made was the best in the world, and to me it was. It a was perfect balance of chicken, vegetables, and noodles. It was not a regular occurrence either. Whole fresh chickens were very rare and costly at the time. Usually, we had to butcher our own chicken to arrive at this masterpiece. It was a time-intensive undertaking, involving, “the deed”, then boiling, burning, defeathering, and dissecting.
I didn’t see my Aunt for many years, as we settled in different cities, so it was such a gift to be sent away to stay with her. When I sat down at Kereszt Anu’s table, and I heard “csirke leves”, I was so excited, and my mouth began to water. What she put before me, was a shallow, wide bowl with a thick fancy rim, half-filled with an intensely golden broth with sparkling little globules floating on top, while tiny little diamond-shaped noodles lay at the bottom. That’s ok, I like that too.
It was hot! hot as in temperature hot, and hot as in black pepper hot.
When I arrived back home, I wanted the answer to this mystery. Apparently, my mother was sent packing to her mother-in-law, to learn the “correct” way to make chicken soup. This method combined everything into the pot to cook, and then, served all the components from the pot also. One sister cooked her “city” way, the other, the “farm” way.
I’m not going to include any comments from the two sisters regarding their individual renditions, because it will ruffle more feathers than soup chickens lost over the years.
I have come to believe that, if there are ten soup cooks in a kitchen, and you instruct them all to make “the authentic” chicken soup, you will get ten different soups. Assuredly, a few may be similar, but each cook will argue to the death, swearing their ancestors are turning in their graves, to assure everyone, that theirs alone, is the “right one”.
Today, I made many versions, Greek, Dominican, Jewish, and Mexican. I love them all.