I made chicken soup today.
I have never made chicken soup before. I figured I’d give it a try.
I’m not much of a cook but I like chicken soup. It’s supposed to be good for your soul. I figured my soul could use a little help from me.
I drove over to Trader Joe’s and parked the car in their parking lot and locked it.
This is New Jersey, after all.
I grabbed a red shopping cart which was just outside the entrance to the store and went inside.
My wife had told me to get the low sodium chicken broth but as soon as I got inside the door I saw that they had turkey broth on sale. I wondered what chicken soup with turkey broth would taste like. I decided against it. I rolled my cart past the bread and past the coffee display and stopped in front of the chicken broth. I selected two boxes of low sodium organic chicken broth made from free range chickens and headed for the vegetables. I knew from having had chicken soup many times in the past that it’s supposed to have vegetables in it. So I picked up a plastic bag with long stalks of celery in it, a bag of multi-colored carrots. I had never seen yellow or black carrots before, but I thought the colors would look good on a spoon. Then I saw more bags of vegetables. There were Brussell sprouts and white sliced mushrooms and minced onions and yellow onions and green onions. I put them all in my cart, along with a mesh bag of new potatoes. I picked up a bag of mixed vegetables containing cauliflower, more carrots and broccoli. I like broccoli so I got another bag of broccoli just to be sure I had enough. Then I rolled on looking for the chicken. I saw a nice one which said “free range“ on it.
I momentarily imagined the chicken out west somewhere perhaps wearing a cowboy outfit. I saw in my mind, horses and rattlesnakes and cacti. I imagined the chicken sitting around a campfire at night with other chickens strumming a guitar and singing songs about roping cattle and drinking and pretty lady chickens.
I’ve steamed vegetables before, but I realized I had no idea how to cook the chicken. The package said something about roasting, whatever that was, but that sounded like something that would take too long. I knew that cutting up the vegetables was going to take me some time, but having to roast a chicken just to make soup, seemed like too much work somehow.
I looked around for someone to ask.
A young woman walked by pushing a shopping cart. I quickly sized her up. She didn’t look like she knew any more about chickens than I did.
Then an older woman approached the place I was standing near the Clementines. As she reached for an avocado, I spoke up.
“Have you ever made chicken soup?”
She stopped, looked at me briefly and smiled.
“Yes, I have made chicken soup many times.”
I figured I was off to a good start.
“Can you tell me how to cook the chicken?”, I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “… you have to cut it up first.”
I had cut up other things before in my life–mostly paper and firewood. I had been a cut-up. I had even carved a few turkeys in my time.
I had never cut up a chicken. But I figured I could do it.
The lady suggested I get some parsley and some paprika. After a few minutes of looking at bags of green things in the vegetable aisle, I finally asked a clerk who was sorting bananas to help me find the parsley– which he did– and then I went back to the spice aisle and although I tried very hard, I couldn’t find the paprika.
So I bought a jar of sea salt and a jar of pepper and a jar of garlic powder and a jar of 21 spices just to be on the safe side.
Then I headed for the checkout line. One of the cashiers was a man, so I passed him by. I was going to ask for more help about making the soup but I didn’t want to ask another man. I didn’t want the soup to taste like a man made it.
While I was sizing up the other cashiers, a friendly young woman came over and said she’d “take me on aisle nine”.
That sounded good to me.
I pushed my cart over to the belt and she began taking everything out and ringing it up. I said,
“I’ll bet you can tell I’m going to make chicken soup, “ I said.
“I have never made chicken soup before,” I offered– hoping she would take pity on me and give me some free advice. She confessed she, herself had only made it a “few times”, but didn’t volunteer any more information on the how she had done it.
I took out my credit card and swiped it through the machine. She put the groceries in my cart and I thanked her and told her I hope she would have a nice day.
Emerging from the store I made directly for my car. Pulling my key from my pocket, I pressed the button unlocking the car. I flung open the tailgate and loaded three bags of future chicken soup into the back. I closed the trunk, walked around the side of the car, opened the door, got in, fastened my seatbelt and backed slowly away from the store as casually as I could, trying not to to draw any undue attention to myelf.
I didn’t want anyone seeing me and thinking, “There goes that idiot with $66 dollars worth of Chick Soup in his trunk.”