Soup Season

When I was struggling in New York City. Judy would invite me over to her apartment in Brooklyn. She would cook me her famous linguini with clam sauce. Even after enjoying a hearty meal, she would pack me a bowl of the dish to go with a box of Entiments’ coffee cake. The F train smelled like a fancy Italian bistro on the way home, but I feasted well.

A few years later, Judy and I were both living in California, since her family had migrated west. One afternoon, she invited me over to her daughter Jackie’s apartment, where she wanted to introduce me to the art of making the family’s legendary Italian chicken soup.

I drove to Winchester, which is close to Temecula and about an hour from San Diego. We went to the local Stater Bros, where we gathered the recipes. Of course, it was more of a scavenger hunt trying to find the ingredients in Winchester, than Brooklyn, but we managed. I was excited to learn how to cook, especially Italian. When I stood in line my neurosis came out.

I kept looking at the chicken’s packaging making sure nothing had been punctured. Judy laughed. I had never touched a raw chicken, but not all good things come easy. We went back to Jackie’s apartment. She was several months pregnant and had a craving for the homey soup.

We drank a ton of coffee, then began cooking the Italian feast. Judy kept trying to show me how to skin the carrots, using the knife in an upward motion. Unfortunately, I grew frightened of the knife. Instead I was put to work in the chopping department. I did great chopping. All the celery and carrots came out perfectly sliced.

The chicken cooked. Soon the veggies were placed in the pot with the broth steaming and then small bits of pasta added. The apartment smelled of garlic and tomato, a most romantic scent. We waited for the soup to cook. After it was finished, we served ourselves. The taste was truly remarkable. To make an excellent soup even better, we added Parmesan. It gave it a delicious cheesiness, which complimented the Italian flavoring

After cake and more coffee, I was officially stuffed. I drove through the rural fields and dark canyons of Winchester, well fed. I didn’t necessarily graduate to the ranks of an Italian chef, but had a great time cooking with Judy and Jackie. I am looking forward to the winter cold for another dose of Italian chicken soup.

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