Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Soul

I received a very bad news last Thursday morning. So bad I thought I wouldn’t be able to move on because I depended on it for almost 5 years. For all the years that I’ve waited for a hopeful answer, I thought I deserve it more than anybody else.

I have scheduled to make this soup last Thursday afternoon. I was about to just cancel it and do it another day. But I decided to make the soup anyway. Besides, what’s the point of sulking in my room knowing that there’s nothing more I can do?

For this soup, I used one whole organic native chicken. This type of chicken is different from the usual chicken as they take longer to cook. Cooking methods required are steaming or simmering. Pan-searing would result in a tough meat. After washing the chicken, I placed it on a large pot with slices of ginger and water, bring it to simmer, skim off the scum, cover slightly and cook the chicken for at least 40 minutes to an hour depending on the weight of the chicken, then take it off the heat, cover and let it sit for about another 30 minutes. It was the way dad cooks it when we’re sick.

As the chicken cooks, I set myself aside for stillness and told myself: Everything’s going to be all right. Just ignore the negative things that people say about you such as you’re wasting your time and talent because you are exactly at the right place and at the right time. Just hang on a little bit longer. You deserve all the good things life has to offer because you are worth it. Even if you have failed so many times in life, that’s okay too because life is not all about career or earning a lot of money. You can have as many setbacks as you like in your life because it shows that your life makes a difference in other people. You are doing great. Just hang on.

I bet the chicken has something to say to himself as well. The chicken prefers no antibiotics, hormones, chemicals or GE food. They want to grow on a stress-free environment so they will have a strong immune system. And they definitely want to be treated humanely. The chicken wants to be cooked whole over low heat so it can produce a tender and succulent flesh; the broth is clear and lightly-flavored. But if the chicken is badly cut up into pieces and cook over a higher heat, it will cook faster but some chicken parts will result in a tough and stringy flesh; the broth is cloudy and muddy-tasting.

When the chicken is already done, I transferred it to a bowl and allow it to cool slightly before removing the flesh from the bone. I strained the broth to another clean pot and bring it up to simmer and added the pearl barley. When the pearl barley is already cooked, I added the chicken to heat through. Season it with a little bit if salt and it’s ready to serve. I realized that after eating it, what I want is just chicken soup, not chicken and barley soup. So, yesterday afternoon, I cooked another piece of whole chicken.

We all have wants in life. There’s something in your life right now that you really, really, really want. Maybe you have received it but it’s unfavorable. But keep on hoping because you will receive it at the right time. During those tough times, you really need to dig deep into finding inspiration and motivation from the little things and successes you’ve accomplished from the past. Hold on to that inspiration to help you keep going and stir you in the right direction. Just keep on keeping on even if you’ve been on a stagnant pool for so many years. Your best days are yet to come.

When the chicken is already done (again), I did the same procedure as of last week. I could have added something more such as vegetables or noodles. But for now, it’s exactly how I wanted it. It’s just the chicken and the lightly salted broth garnished with cilantro. It’s light, flavorful, restful, peaceful and forgiving. This nutritious soup does the body and spirit good. It’s a breath of fresh air that restores me to face the world courageously.

People are always looking for complexity in life – conclusive evidence, documents, requirements and resumes to prove that you are worthy but one thing that people fail to look at is how you survived in a non-English speaking country, how you exude grace when you gave up your career for years to take care of your ailing father or how you rise up when you fall.

Just like this chicken soup, it could have been tastier when you added more ingredients. But if you don’t have any other ingredients at hand, the chicken and broth alone don’t need to prove anything that its flavor and healing properties can stand up on its own.


  1. Well put Divina...we do tend to want to over season (or over complicate) dishes.

    I hope everything is okay with you and your family...thanks for the post.

  2. Hi there, a while ago we had talked about exchanging blogroll links.

    I was supposed to get back to you after I linked to your blog so you could link back.

    I linked to your blog already. When you have some time, please link back ok?

    cheers, michael wong at:


  3. My dear Divine,
    I'm glad I took the courage to get up from bed and sit in front of my computer this morning (it's 3:59 AM).
    You are so good! Congratulations for being on the top 9.
    Your doing great! Please continue blogging. You have no idea how many people read your blog and learn from it.
    Sometimes, early in the morning when I can't sleep, I check out my friends' blogs including yours. I read your blog because I have a friend who has two failed kidneys and he's having gout attacks. I check your blog for foods with low purine and what spices to use when one has a gout attack. Thank you, I know you do not know my friend and you do not know me personally, but you have helped me a lot. You are my resource person when it comes to holistic approach in treating ailments.
    Your efforts are greatly appreciated.
    Chris fron San Francisco
    My website: http://www.cookingenthusiast.blogspot.com

  4. @ Christ - hello Chris, I hope every thing is fine with you. Wow, you woke up early today. I've been waiting for your recent blog posts but it seems you're quite busy.

    Thank you very much. You're right. I really have no idea how many people read my blog or have really no idea if people do read my blog.

    I'm planning to do a blog post about gout/uric acid/purines soon.

    If there's anything you want me to include on my blog, please do let me know.

    I just felt I've known you for such a long time.

    Thank you Chris.


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