Tuesday, January 23, 2007


When something retains its appeal over time, we call it a classic. It's probably safe to say, therefore, that chicken soup, in all its variations, easily earns that label.

How far back does chicken soup go? Well, the recent discovery of surprisingly well-preserved cave paintings in Lower Mongolia show prehistoric hunters taking down a pterodactyl with hurled stones and spears and then throwing a tailgate party in front of a cave, with the doomed bird simmering in a mastodon skull kettle.

Okay. I made that up. I also made up a modern version in as simple a manner as possible today and I'm happy to share it with you.

It all started with my habit of buying the family packs of boneless chicken breasts and boneless thighs. When I get them home, I portion them out into freezer Ziploc bags, one or two pieces per bag, depending on size. As it happened, I did the thighs two-to-a-bag and had one left over. Well, I said to myself. That's just about right for some chicken noodle soup.

And it was. I set approximately 6 cups of water to boil (who measures?) and tossed in a bunch of broken up fettucini noodles. While these were cooking, I took the kitchen shears and snipped away at the thigh until I had a nice pile of bite-sized chicken bits. (When chicken is fresh or thawed, you can cut it easier and neater with scissors than with a knife.) Splished a bit of olive oil in the electric wok set at 350 degrees, tossed the chicken into that, sprinkled it with Montreal chicken seasoning, and quickly stir fried it to just done.

Back to the noodle pot -- added six teaspoons of Wyler's chicken bullion granules, a hearty clump of Mrs. Dash Original seasoning, a generous spoonful of dried minced onion, and the stir fried chicken. Just for the fun of it, I also added about a cup of frozen mixed vegetables. Then I turned the heat down to simmer, put the lid on the pot and went about my bidness.

Don't really know how long I let it simmer. Half an hour? An hour? Hard to say. In any case, when I came back, I flipped it back up to a boil and stirred in some corn starch to thicken it just a bit. Shazaam! Chicken Noodle soup, in all its classic glory, perfect for a winter afternoon meal.

I'm not really sure what fortuitous steps led me to another classic but, while digesting my first bowl of soup, I discovered one of my all time favorite fun movies is (hurrah!) on DVD. This gem falls under the heading of Unsung Classic. Have you ever heard of "The Villain" with Kirk Douglas, Ann Margaret, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paul Lynde, Strother Martin and Jack Elam? Oh! Let's not forget a horse named Whiskey because he was the real star of the show.

How to describe this movie? It's totally camp, totally silly and totally addictive. Think Grade B Western meets Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner and picture Douglas in the Coyote role. Think highly respected actors getting paid for goofing off and having more fun than ought to be legal. Watch Schwarzenegger in the pre-Terminator (this was 1979) role of Handsome Stranger and think, "Ohmigawd, this man is the governor of California! That explains a lot."

For the fun of it, I was reading the reviews of the movie at Amazon. It was amusing to compare comments between the folks who "got it" and those who didn't have a clue. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I read a review that made me blink with bemused shock. The reviewer, who liked the movie, felt compelled to explain to contemporaries that Kirk Douglas was the father of Michael.

Holy Generation Gap, Batman! It's hard to get one's mind around the fact that the actors one grew up with aren't even a blip on the radar screen of the youngsters running around. Nor is it any easier to understand how those same actors can possibly be so blatantly showing their age now, when one still sees the younger version in the mind's eye. It's difficult to reconcile that inner vision with current photos, the difference is so vast.

The human body, it seems, does not weather the ages quite as gracefully as chicken soup. It's more like the crumbling ruins of the Parthenon. But we're classic, by golly, and don't you young whippersnappers forget it!

HAPPY UPDATE! Just wanted to mention, Eddi came home from the hospital yesterday and is continuing to heal in comfort. Thank you, again, for all the wonderful mojo.


John Bailey said...

Really happy making Eddi news! Just right to go with good chicken soup.

I have a little expression: "Don't let the whippersnappers generation gap you." Except, until now, I used a less acceptable term to whipersnapper. For which I thank you!

bb said...

I saw Raquel Welch on Rachel's yesterday and she shows not one bit of aging. Now how do you suppose that happened? :-)

How about putting for a good chili recipe for me? The cookoff is coming.

Dee said...

John, I'm happy you can use whippersnapper. I'm always finding wonderful words at your place.

Bonnie, Raquel is a law unto herself. Remarkable woman. As for the chili, sounds like an interesting challenge. With or without beans? Send me cookoff rules offline, eh?

sharryb said...

I'll have to check out this movie! You've given it a "don't miss" designation. Glad I found your blog. I'm over here in Ashland (OR). Been passing through Langlois off and on since 1960. On my tricycle, of course.