During the first World War, my mother’s father was a New York City cop (his brothers-in-law served in Europe). My father’s father ran a Pennsylvania hardware. The family tradition continued through World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Not sure why my father was deferred — because he nearly died with cellulitis in 1941? First husband deferred from service in Vietnam for being too tall (!).
My father-in-law, though, joined the Navy right out of high school, remembers playing baseball in Hiroshima. So I can thank one family member for his service today, along with all the countless others who served, especially those who’ve struggled back home.
Whenever I hear Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” I remember standing in the falling snow after a special screening of “Platoon” (1986), going through a veteran’s Vietnam scrapbook and listening to his memories. It was probably the night I fell in love with Stoic the Vast because when I got back home after those interviews, he called to see if I was OK. Wow. Yes, but we live among a lot of badly damaged people who we’re not helping a bit.
To this day, I don’t really know how to help anybody, except with food. I’m learning to listen but my big mouth just wants to run. And run.
So back to the kitchen to make the best and easiest chicken pasta soup, the ultimate comfort food. This is a Cooking Light recipe, and there’s really no way you can screw it up or take more than 25 minutes from start to finish. Promise. And Happy Veterans’ Day to all who left their beats, their hardware stores and their cabinet plants. May your soup bowls overflow with comfort today and every day.
Cooking Light’s Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced carrot
2/3 cup thinly sliced celery
2 cups water
1 32-ounce container chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 ounces whole-grain rotini (about 2 cups)
8 ounces skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast, chopped or shredded
4 ounces skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken thigh, chopped or shredded
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Take meat off chicken, weighing to approximate measures (I wasn’t really exact about anything in this recipe, and that works just fine). Heat large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add carrot, onion and celery. Stirring occasionally, saute 5 minutes or until onions begin to soften and you see little burny spots.
If you’re in a hurry, heat water and stock in microwave. Or add both directly to pan, stirring to loosen those delicious browned bits; bring to boil. Stir in thyme and pasta; reduce heat to medium and cook 8 minutes
Add chicken, salt and pepper to soup, cook to warm chicken and make sure pasta is tender. Be careful not to overcook chicken. Makes 6, 1-1/4 cup servings, 237 calories each.
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