“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” ~ C. S. Lewis
Soul food is food cooked from the soul, for the soul, or both. Soul food nourishes us beyond a physical, nutritional need. Soul food heals things that medicines and treatments can’t touch.
This past week we lost a friend in a tragic car accident. It wasn’t her fault, she did nothing wrong. She was simply here one minute, gone the next.
When I heard the news, I went to my kitchen. I scrapped what I had planned for dinner and started working on something much more complicated. Something with a very hands-on sauce. I needed this time to whisk and whisk and whisk. Physically and mentally, I have been in the kitchen ever since. For me, cooking is therapy. The repetitive motions, the quiet time alone are healing in some way. And food. Nothing in this world works on the soul like food. So yesterday I began to make a soup, a soul soup. It couldn’t be from someone else’s recipe. It had to be from me, from my soul. It had to be a part of the grieving, and ultimately, a part of the healing.
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 large turnip, washed, peeled and diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 tbs dried parsley
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 2 tsp. salt
- 6 cups of chicken broth (homemade or store-bought)
- 3 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
- 5 lasagna noodles, broken up into pieces
- In a large stock pot, saute turnips for several minutes in oil over medium heat. Add carrots, saute for several more minutes, then add celery and onions and finally garlic when the onions are softened.
- Season vegetables with parsley, drop in rosemary, bay leaf, pepper and salt – stir well to combine and heat through until fragrant. You want all the vegetables to be softened.
- Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Drop in your chicken thighs and boil until chicken is done through – 10-15 minutes. Remove thighs from broth, place on cutting board and cut into chunks or shred. Whichever you prefer. Return to broth along with noodles and simmer until noodles are done.
- If the soup gets too thick, add in water, 1/2 cup at a time (or broth, if you have extra) until it’s as soupy as you’d like. If the water cuts down on the flavor, add a 1 tsp. of bouillon per cup of water. Since the chicken cooks in the broth, your flavor should be pretty big, so adding water shouldn’t hurt it too much.
I’ve made chicken soups before, usually an Asian or Italian inspired “gourmet” type of recipe. But this was simple, down-home, soul food. I used ingredients I had on hand: left-over lasagna noodles, homemade broth from a crock pot chicken, turnips from my Uncle Joe’s garden. This soup was who and where I was in that moment. We sipped this soup out of mugs before and after the wake. We will eat it today as we prepare for the funeral. We will let the warmth of it sooth our souls. We will mourn. We will heal.
Andrea, your body may be gone, an empty tomb, but your soul, which doesn’t require such earthly boundaries, lives on forever. Fly free. See you on the other side.