The Healing Powers of Soup

~By Kate H. Knapp

If I could go back in time and impart one piece of wisdom to my younger self, it would be to appreciate the soup. Granted, I’ve learned plenty that could benefit the immature me, plus things that would redefine many of the mistakes I have made since those days of youth. But in truth there is only item of which I wish I had savored each and every spoonful, and that is my mother’s soup.

Like many children, I didn’t realize what I had until years later, when I was trapped in bed with the flu without anyone in the world to bring me a glass of water … let alone to make me a big pot of healing soup. It was at that moment that I was reduced from a twenty-something independent and headstrong woman into a sniveling and vulnerable child who just wanted her mommy. Such a transformation was caused by only the mere idea of her soup.

When I was sick as a child, no matter the affliction (I’m pretty sure I faked illness when I was craving a bowl of her stew), my mother, being an extraordinary cook and artist of all things leftover, would boil a large pot of short ribs, chicken, turkey, or whatever meat was available. Standing over the stove like a mad conductor, she’d add heaping dashes of sugar and salt, instantly filling the entire house with a hearty aroma that would restore strength to even a freshly shorn Samson.

While humming a Beatles or Don Mclean tune, my mother would casually add frozen vegetables (she kept them on hand for just such an emergency) into the rolling boiling stock. If I was well enough to leave my bed, I would sit on a stool in the kitchen, drinking ginger ale, and watch as she stirred the pot with a heavy wooden spoon. Steam billowing around her crimson red hair conjured the image of a mythological goddess or a witch (depending on my mood). I’d like to say that it was more often the former, but my mother was notorious for her creepy intuition, so this image of her as a caster of spells may not have been that far off. To this day, she knows I’ve done something mischievous long before the said act is even a thought in my typically angelic mind.

I have recreated her soup on many different occasions; from shredded turkey, chicken noodle, beef rib, or hamburger, and I can never get it just right.  I hum the songs, violently shake the sugar and salt, and stir like I belong in a proper covenant, but there is something that is missing. I can’t say for sure exactly what it is, but I do know that whatever my adoring mother put in that soup, even if her magical ingredient was just her unconditional and caring love, it was more therapeutic and healed me faster than any antibiotic. I only wish she could fed-ex it when I start to get the sniffles.

***

Mama’s Healing Soup … Coming Soon

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