We live in California now, and my Jewish cooking has gotten all mixed up with local influences.
I’m sorry and I feel really bad but your beloved chicken soup has become your grandchildren’s favorite Mexican chicken soup.
I still make your soup. Especially when the kids are sick or it’s a really cold day or we’re all feeling especially run down and tired.
I sauté onions, carrots and celery in some oil just like you used to. I use a whole chicken (maybe you used to use just certain parts of the chicken—I can’t remember). Sometimes I cheat and add a carton of Imagine Kosher Chicken Broth because I can’t always get the broth to taste as rich as when you made it. Lots of salt, a fine mesh strainer to make a nice clear broth and to remove all the goop, and then I skim off some of the fat.
But here’s where your wonderful Jewish cooking takes a turn south of the border–I then take all those soft sautéed onions that have been soaking all day in the broth and I puree them with a couple cartons of chopped tomatoes and add it all back into the broth. I add chili powder, chili flakes or a jalapeno pepper, garlic and a little cumin. Sometimes I add hominy. I put different bowls on the table filled with black beans, cilantro, chips, avocado and lime. The kids love to add whatever they want from these bowls to their soup.
You’re still there with me when I make it. And I’m still back in Lakewood, NJ in your kitchen when I eat it. I think about being a little girl and you’re spoiling me with kisses and hugs and all that delicious comfort food. There was a lot of love and tradition around your kitchen table. And there is around mine too. I promise.