Create: Chicken Soup for the Spring Cold

Spring has been temperamental with its steamy, humid highs and cool, rainy lows. As a result it seems like just about everyone I know has suffered from some sort of cold or cough, myself included. So a few weeks ago when my niece and I both came down with whatever this blah is, I churned out a giant cauldron of chicken noodle soup.

I packed it up in large Mason jars and froze one for later. Later being today. The blah and the rain crept back in and I needed to seek the comfort that can only be found in a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

I adapted this Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup recipe from an old issue of Bon Appétit. If you cook up a pot let me know how you customize it.

  • 16 cups low-salt* chicken broth
  • 5 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4-6 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1&1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (I used shitake)
  • 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) fresh thyme

Combine chicken broth and chicken in heavy large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Cool chicken and broth slightly. Discard skin and bones from chicken. Cut chicken meat into bite-size pieces, season with salt and pepper and reserve. Spoon fat off top of chicken broth.

Return broth to simmer. Add onion, carrots and celery. Simmer until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover chicken meat and broth separately and refrigerate. Bring broth to boil before continuing.)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms to broth; stir in noodles, thyme and reserved chicken. Simmer until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a fresh loaf of bread.

*I used low-salt broth and 2 out of 4 of us said it needed more salt. I had a cold so I could not accurately judge. Perhaps next time I’ll use a few cups of full sodium broth.

Ps&Qs: Are you coming or what?

How could anyone resist sending in this response card from PearTree Greetings?

I’m not sure why, but responding to invitations seems to be a courtesy that is falling away. Sure, we’re all busy, but so is the person kindly extending an invite, planning a party and holding a spot for you at a table.

We had a party not too long ago and while most responded, there were still a few who did not. Some of those we didn’t hear from showed up (pleasant surprise) and others did not (we get the hint, you don’t want to hang out with us). It was a casual thing so not a big deal either way, but for anyone who has ever orchestrated something that requires a definitive head count, response is important.

It only takes a moment, especially with an electronic invite. However, I realize that if I don’t reply when I first view an email or Evite, it tends to get buried in a string of emails. That is until I remember it and sometimes after the requested respond by date. Super bad guest etiquette.

Emily Post suggests getting back to your host within a day or two of an invitation. Polite, but also practical so that it doesn’t get lost on the to-do list. For anyone in need of a refresher course, here is the complete guide to invitation etiquette according to Ms. Post.

Any outstanding invitations awaiting your reply? Drop your hosts a line today.



Wander: London

Todd and I went on vacation last month to London and Berlin. Without the baby. Aside from one overnight, one parent has always been with Soren. Traveling just the two of us again, is something we’ve longed to do. So before we (ok, me) had time to back out we asked my mom to come stay (she was thrilled) and booked tickets. We were off.

Cue the roiling waves of deep gratitude for those who made it possible; guilt for leaving the work to others; moments of home sickness; uncertainty about what to do with all the free time and mental space; and more guilt still for not missing our son every single second. Soren, it turns out, was having such a good time he was largely unaware of our absence.

It was decadent. And it probably won’t happen again for another 10 years. I felt fortunate to have the experience at all. So here are snapshots of Part One of what my husband termed ‘The Seven Day Date’

Yes, we went to the Tate Modern, but our friend Adam also suggested the off-beat Soane Museum. This former residence is crammed (borderline hoarder antiquities style) with the personal collection of architect Sir John Soane. The art itself wasn’t of great interest to me. But a peek into the world of an eccentric collector and stroll around a tony neighborhood (picture above) made for an odd-ball afternoon.

Paella, French pate, fresh mozzarella, stinky grilled cheese sandwiches, lamb burgers, ostrich farmers, fish mongers, bakers, spice vendors, florists and even a classic barber shop can be found in the abundant  Borough Market. A classic old-world market of the highest order.

We strolled Brick Lane not for the Indian food (which I’m sure is fantastic), but for the graffiti. The crane is by ROA, anyone know about the yelling guys?We wound our way through Soho and ended up at a very no-frills 12 seat restaurant in Chinatown for filling won-ton soup and steamed pork buns. Kinda perfect on a dreary London day.

The permanent feeling pop-up restaurant from the chef collective the Young Turks above the Ten Bells pub (lore claims it was a Jack the Ripper, er, pick-up spot) was a total surprise. It was certainly our favorite meal in London and on our Top Ten Ever list. The seven course menu of deftly handled seasonal and local ingredients mixed high––combos like pigeon, duck egg and watercress or the suckling kid, grilled onion and ramson savory finale––and low brow––more fried mutton breast sticks with mint sauce please. The whole experience felt more like a relaxed dinner party than stuffy dining experience. The chef even popped down with several more desserts as if he was just goofing around upstairs in the kitchen and needed to run a few things by us at 11:00. It was outrageously good. They’ve threatened to cook in Brooklyn this fall for a few nights. I hope to catch up with the Young Turks when in town.

And, of course, the main attraction, our dear friend Elinor. An excellent guide and generous, relaxed hostess. She and her beau Adrian made for such a warm start to the trip. We’ll be back.



Gift: The Mothering Kind

At a recent launch event for a parenting website I made what I thought was casual conversation with another guest and asked if she had children. Her lovely smile dropped and she answered that no, she did not, and it was one of her life’s greatest regrets.

I apologized for bringing up such a sensitive subject, and shared that while I couldn’t fully understand what she had experienced, I don’t consider being a literal parent the only way to nurture, support, care for and ‘parent’ a child. Despite being a part time tutor, she hadn’t thought of it in those terms. But, what she did think about were her students (often), and the joy and hilarious stories working with them brought to her life. Which, after all, are a few perks for those who mother in any sense of the word.

So, to all who mother, teach, instruct and help us grow in their own way: thank you and happy Mother’s Day.

My sister-in-law gifted me with one of these eggs from Rae Dunn Clay stamped affectionately with one word:  ‘Adore’.  Perfect for a sunny window sill or night stand.

This is a splurge, but I absolutely covet my friend Jessie’s custom silhouette charm from Love & Victory. It’s just one of the many tender custom gifts they create. 

Gift blooms that will last all year round with a membership to a local botanic garden, or make a donation to a conservatory.

Any and all work by Maira Kalman, a true source of creativity and wonder. This edition of Michael Pollan’s wise food guide was re-issued last year with additional rules and enhanced with Kalman’s sublime illustrations.