I believe all people who cook have a go-to recipe or a type of food they fall back on that they know will turn out okay no matter what. For me, this food is soup. I love soup! Soup represents warmth, comfort, and old-fashioned heartiness. My bean, however, has a very different opinion of soup.
Last fall, I bought a foodie magazine of all soup recipes. Honestly, there wasn’t a recipe in this collection that didn’t sound good to me. I was making soup for dinner two nights a week for several weeks. I was happy. I thought The Bibbed Wonder was happy. My bean didn’t complain, so I assumed she was happy. I gleefully planned my weekly menus thinking soup twice a week was a grand idea. I incorporated sandwiches or different types of bread into each meal. Often, I included a salad as well. Life was good and filled with delicious soup. At least, that is what I believed. Sigh.
At the beginning of the school year, my bean struggled with math. Shockingly, Jordan was not hitting it off with her math teacher; she was frustrated, received no feedback or direction, and was intimidated by her teacher. My daughter is not used to not being able to connect with someone. Seventh-grade math class was her first experience feeling as though an adult in a position of authority did not have a vested interest in her well-being or success. To say she didn’t handle it well is an understatement.
Her attitude toward learning took a nose dive. She often came home frustrated and angry that she could not get any help, felt blown off, and her grade reflected how she felt. Jordan’s grade hovered around failure. For my overachieving little bean, this was the worst thing ever. There were many nights she simply melted down and cried because she didn’t understand the concepts and didn’t receive any direction from the teacher. The Bibbed Wonder is a certified math teacher, and he spent many hours with her working on homework, reviewing, and prepping for tests. It didn’t matter what they did; her grades were not where they should be, which devastated Jordan.
I emailed the teacher asking for insight and resources to help Jordan improve her grade. I didn’t receive a response until a week later. The answer was an apology for not responding but didn’t address my concerns or offer me any guidance. I then sat Jordan down, and we talked about how she would not “hit it off” with all teachers. Not all teachers are warm and fuzzy. Teachers are people, and not everyone likes everyone else. I told her she needed to accept that this would not be a friendly relationship, do her work, keep her head down, and bring her work home to review with her dad. I told her this was a life lesson; one must learn how to get along with different personalities to succeed.
Meanwhile, I was doing my homework on this teacher behind the scenes. I reached out to a fellow mom and teacher in the school to get her insight on the situation. My instincts were correct. This guy was doing the bare minimum in the classroom. He was indeed on his phone all the time. He was not following the protocol set in place by the math department. The school had received so many complaints about him, his teaching, the failure rate of his students, and his attitude that he was receiving training from other teachers in his department. Sigh. This was going to be a tough year.
All the while, I am at home making soup twice a week, thinking I am making “food for the soul” and lecturing my child on how to get along with an adult who, if he were a child, I would warn my girl to steer clear of and not engage. After one particularly tough day, The Bean came home crying because she had failed another math test. As she walked down the sidewalk to the house, she pointed her little finger in the air like an angry politician and declared she was done with math class and the teacher, and she was sick of soup! She wanted something hearty to eat! She went on to rant that soup was a lumpy beverage and not a meal! Even if you add a sandwich, it doesn’t make it a meal. It was a lumpy beverage with a sandwich!
This dear reader was news to me. I readjusted my weekly menus to include soup once every two weeks. The math class in question was divided between two teachers. My bean was one of the lucky ones who moved to a different teacher. Amazingly, her attitude and grade improved. She once again was earning solid A’s in math class. Her new teacher was caring and knowledgeable and did a fantastic job in the classroom. This young woman became one of Jordan’s favorite teachers, and math became one of her favorite subjects. I reached out to this new teacher on several occasions, thanking her for the great job she was doing with my daughter. Once again, life on the farm was well-balanced.
After the dust had settled, I asked my bean why she didn’t say something sooner about not liking all the soups. She informed me she liked soup. She just didn’t like soup twice a week. She told me her favorite soup was my chicken noodle soup, which incidentally is not in the soup-making bible I had been following. Today, dear reader, I will share with you my bean-approved, “hearty enough for a meal once in a while” chicken noodle soup. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and for love of all that’s holy, don’t serve it more than once a month, or there will be tyranny.
The Bean’s Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Package Kluski Thin Egg Noodles
3 Large Carrots
3 Ribs of Celery
1 Small Can of Mushrooms
1 Medium Onion
2 Quarts of Homemade Chicken Broth or Store Bought Chicken Broth
6 Cups Water
4 Tablespoons Better Than Bullion Roasted Chicken Soup Starter
2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
2 Teaspoons Pepper
In a large stockpot, boil chicken breasts in 6 cups of water. While the chicken is cooking, finely chop carrots, celery, and onion. (I use a food processor because it is faster, and The Bean can’t pick out the vegetables if they are chopped this finely). Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the water, reserving water. Add chicken broth, chopped vegetables, seasoning, and soup starter to the pot. Bring all to a boil allowing to simmer for ten minutes. Chop chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and set them aside. Once soup stock has reached boiling, add noodles and follow package directions for cooking. Once noodles are cooked, add the chopped chicken breast and the mushrooms. Simmer for another ten minutes.
This warm and hearty soup can be served with soft, warm rolls and a salad to complete the meal.
I hope, dear reader, you enjoy this bean-approved soup recipe. We had it for dinner last night, and The Bean ate two bowls. She declared this “the best soup ever.” I don’t know about that, but I do know I am happy when she is happy.
Have a wonderful weekend, dear reader. If you are looking for something to do on a warm July Saturday morning, you could join us at the Ligonier Country Market. All the ingredients for the soup recipe are fresh and available there. Also, with a bit of luck and accurate logistics, our body wash labels are scheduled to arrive between noon and two p.m. today. You could be the first to experience our labor of love! Insert a wink.
Stay safe, be smart, remember there truly is too much of a good thing sometimes, such as soup, and keep washing your hands.