Girls Part III: Why does the Sisterhood Circle Club cook chicken soup?

I wrote this post when I was studying to become a teacher.

As a kid, one of my favourite rituals was steaming my cheeks over a hot pot of chicken soup, even if my parents thought it was nuts.

To me, the pot of soup was a world of little people, tossed about in the tide of life. You see, when I helped my mom roll matzo balls, I shaped and marked them in certain ways– a sprig of parsley here, a dent there– and gave each ball personality. This one was a doctor, the other a maid.

A pot of matzo ball chicken soup
This is not what you think it is.

When we threw them into the pot, I became invested in these characters’ fates and I desperately looked out for them; I wanted to know why the doctor fought with carrots and why the maid mushroomed to twice her size. It made for a rich story. It was a tasty soup. And when my family sat down to eat, it became a glue between us.

The experience was stamped in my mind as  the sacred chicken soup ritual.  Cooking the soup came to represent community, imagination, and survival in my life. Here’s how the Sisterhood Circle girls got a taste of the same:

1)      COMMUNITY– The Sisterhood Circle is all about building strong friendships between young girls so they can help each other in their lives. What better way to bond then over making and eating soup?

The girls were put into stations where they peeled onions, chopped carrots, and gutted celery. After fighting carrots with scraping knives, they were like warriors bonded through battle.

peeling carrot
Scraping carrots for the soup.

2)      IMAGINATION-  As I mentioned, kids take what is common and create extraordinary rituals. They are natural creators. They look at the world and say, “No, this is not just a bowl of soup. This is….”

Teaching girls to cook is giving them another medium for expressing their creativity.  A pot is a palette. A mixing spoon is a paintbrush. Spices are paints.  The soup is the masterpiece. It is a reflection of the creator and it tells some story.

Every year since I learned to cook chicken soup, I’ve add something to my artist’s repertoire. Today I’ll throw in a dash of paprika to this soup. Today I’ll add parsley. Now I’ll go to India, borrow some curry, and make something I’ve never seen before. Through cooking, I’ve traveled to different worlds and broadened my horizons. I’ve created something out of nothing.

3)      SURVIVAL+ – Cooking is a survival skill. When we are at home, we don’t realize the value of a home cooked meal. A friend of mine moved to the big city and feasted on ramen noodles. They say you are what you eat and they are right: she became a little more flimsy, a little more pale, a little more greasy— just like a ramen noodle.

Worse: she wasnot living, she was merely existing.

The sad situation could have been avoided altogether if someone had just taught her how to cook. Having made a pot of soup from scratch, the Sisterhood Circle Club girls are ready to eat!

chicken soup bowls
Our finished product.

4)      NUTRITION- While we were cooking, Ella gave the girls a talk about nutrition and we handed out food guide information packages. Eating disorders are becoming more common among Canadian girls, so we felt it important to talk about what healthy and unhealthy eating looks like. We stressed the need to eat three meals a day and exercise.

The girls really enjoyed the activity and the soup was fantastic! Here’s the recipe below, published in a school newsletter. Enjoy!

chicken soup recipe
Our chicken soup recipe. It has a twist!