Family Comes Together Through Soup Tradition

Getting creative in the kitchen helps this military mom hold down the fort.

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- Posted on Jan 25, 2014

Getting creative in the kitchen with soup recipes

My husband, Scott, is in the military and his career has kept us on the move. It isn’t easy packing up and leaving friends behind. I always pray that I will be able to make our new house a home.

There is one thing I look forward to each time we move, and that’s unpacking my soup pot. It was a wedding gift, but I didn’t put it to good use until seven years ago.

We were living in Pennsylvania then, 1,100 miles away from our family in Florida. Snow was piling up, I was pregnant with our first child and Scott was in bed with a cold. I wanted to do something to help him. I remembered that Mom always made chicken noodle soup from scratch when we were sick. But the only kind I’d ever made came out of a can. I picked up the phone.

“Mom, Scott’s sick. Could you tell me how to make chicken soup?”

“Sure. It’s easy,” came her reassuring voice. “Take out your big soup pot.”

I dug the pot out of a cabinet.

“Chop some onion and celery and sauté them in oil,” she said.

She talked me through it. Chicken broth, chicken breasts, spices and noodles all followed in order as she finished her instructions.

“I think I can do that,” I said.

Before I knew it, there on the stove was my own steaming pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. I called Mom again. “Mom! I did it!” I said.

She laughed. “Of course you did.”

Scott loved the soup. “Thanks, that really was good!” he said. By that night, he was already feeling better.

My success with the soup made me brave. I called Mom for more recipes. I started reading cookbooks and experimenting in the kitchen. By the following winter, I had become a soup expert. I even made soup for our daughter Ma­kenna’s first solid food. It was a bowl of veggie beef and barley.

“Yum,” I said, spooning a few soft carrots and barley pearls onto the tray table of her high chair. She squealed, devouring every morsel as fast as her chubby little fingers could grab them. Three years later, when it was time for her twin sisters, Gabriella and Mattea, to eat their first meal, the menu was never in doubt. They delightedly flung around carrots and barley. The dogs might have eaten more than they did. The same scene repeated itself a few years later when their brother, Caleb, had his first bowl of veggie beef and barley soup.

Today when we make soup—which is often—the kids each have their stations. Makenna, seven, the sous chef, peels carrots and sautés the vegetables. Gabriella and Mattea, age five, wash the vegetables and sprinkle spices. Two-year-old Caleb waits impatiently to be our official taste-tester. I feel a little bit like a circus ringmaster. Before long the twins are sopping wet and we have food all over the place. It’s as much fun as a trip to the park.

Our favorite soups come with their own special memories. Like the time we made Italian wedding soup for a friend deploying to Afghanistan, or for my sister when she brought my nephew home from the hospital. The kids love to make Grandma Fiorello’s broccoli tomato soup because they enjoy hearing me tell how Gram would feed it to her family. We live so far away that we rarely get to visit Gram. But when we make her soup, it’s as if she’s there in the kitchen with us.

See how my old soup pot makes the newest posting feel like home? It’s just one of the ways God fills our lives with blessings, no matter where we are.

Try Kendra's Veggie Beef and Barley Soup!

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