Happy Meal

When I was a kid — as far back as I can remember — my mom used to always have the same thing for lunch on Sunday. Chicken soup. She still makes it today, and every once in a while when she’s in town, she’ll make it for us on Sundays.

She probably doesn’t think I appreciate it, but I really do. I look forward to it. Maybe I didn’t so much back when I was a kid though. Yeah, probably not. Back then it was a hassle to get up out of bed in the morning on the weekends just to eat lunch. I guess it got tiring having the same thing for lunch every Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Now that I’m older, I find that little things like chicken soup for Sunday lunch is actually pretty great.

So, what’s in the chicken soup? Well, my mom would start by boiling a whole fryer chicken. She’d reserve the broth while tearing the meat off the bones. She’d take care to separate the white meat from the dark meat. White meat for my brother; dark meat for me. My mom knew us so well. We would also have these amazing rice noodles. I don’t think I ever got tired of those noodles, even if I did complain about having chicken soup again on Sunday. My mom would use these special melamine bowls that she had bought, I believe, at some local Chinese grocery store. They were white with some red Chinese letters and decorations right at the top edge of the bowl. However, my dad was permitted to use the extra large bowl from my mom’s China set. I’m not sure how he got away with using such a nice bowl for his Sunday lunch, but at least he was always careful with it. I know, because I have the China set now.

My mom would set the broth to simmer once the noodles were portioned into everyone’s bowl and the chicken was piled on top of the noodles with the diced green onions. When it was warm enough (or when we were close to starving), my mom would then pour the broth into the bowls and shake some soy sauce on top of it all for everyone. Back then she would also sprinkle in various seasonings; these days she and my dad set out the seasonings and let us “kids” (meaning adults, since my brother and I are both married now and we get to share this meal with our spouses) add what we like. We even get to add our own soy sauce.

The best thing about this chicken soup is that our kids get to experience and love it just as much as we still do. It seems easy to make, but I’m not sure I’d be able to ever get it just right. After all, mom’s home cooking always tastes the best.


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