We have been dealing with some pretty heavy topics lately (albeit extremely beautiful – no pun intended – ones), so I thought we ‘d change it up a bit and totally switch gears……sort of.
I was inspired today as I made soup for my family. My poor husband is sick with the Flu, and as seems typical with the men in my family when they get sick, he is acting as though he were near death. (He gave me permission to write that – he has kept his self-depricating humor intact throughout his apparent battle with mortality (rolling my eyes lovingly). This morning I had to run to the store. He reminded me to take our cell phone “In case he had to call me to tell me to rush home to his bedside.” While I appreciate his humor as he lays, no doubt awaiting the inevitable, on the couch, it now seems that my daughter and one of my sons will also succumb to the nasty sickness. Thankfully it’s a mild case (well you wouldn’t know it if you talked to my dear hubby) but it still throws the whole family for a loop! I am forced to ponder, is it just the men in my family who become completely incapacitated by even a cold, or is this a condition that afflicts all men? Ah well, regardless, it does give me an opportunity to take care of him, and although the circumstances are rotten, I will take any opportunity to show my husband how much I love him, and to well, nurture him……
So today I went about the business of making soup. Real, homemade, all from scratch soup. Now before I ask for your applause for accomplishing this amazing culinary feat, I must say that it was my mother who reminded me of the medicinal powers contained in homemade chicken soup. I think she takes a secret delight in reminding me of this fact, because as a little girl I absolutely detested soup in any form. So when I was sick and felt lousy and she made me eat soup and drink broth I felt completely miserable. But……..it works!
I can personally attest to this fact. A few weeks ago I was visiting my family up in NJ and as all to often happens after we make the 4 hour trek to the Garden State, the children all started getting sick. My mother, being the mom and now grandmom that she is, immediately sprung to action. Yep, you guessed it, she whipped up….well, you dont exactly whip up soup, but she made her (in)famous chicken soup. The kids and I all dutifully ate some (I will admit it tasted much better to me this time than I ever remember!) the next morning the kids were better! I didn’t get sick (which is a small miracle because I always get sick when I visit NJ…especially if my kids do!) I had to hand it to my mom, she was right!
So today, faced with the prospect of 4 children and a husband all getting the flu, I took my mother’s time tested advice and made soup.
This got me thinking. I enjoyed making the soup. I thoroughly enjoyed boiling the chicken for the broth and then simmering it for a few hours. Then I went to town chopping veggies till my wrists hurt. But I liked it. I was taking care of my family. I was doing something to make them feel better. I was nurturing them.
This, dear friends, is our topic, well like I said, sort of. Our other topic is soup. In fact, I will include here for you the recipe for Medicinal Chicken-Nurture-Soup!
As women we were born to nurture. It is part of who we are. It is how God made us! He is so wise in His design of men and women. He created us with a need to be nurtured and cared for and then He created women with the genius to do so! This is perhaps why we enjoy doing things that take care of others…like making soup. Its why there are a disproportionate amount of women in traditionally nurturing jobs (ie: child care, teaching, nursing, hospice care, midwifery, etc). Its why we put those jars of candy on our desks at the office and why we relish friendships in which we can drop off dinner for each other, or run an errand or two to help out. We are created to nurture – and often times we don’t even consciously realize that we are doing it. It’s not like one day at work you think to yourself, Oh, I need to nurture my coworkers, I should bring in candy to share. No, more likely you thought to yourself, oh, this would be nice, or perhaps you saw a cool candy jar at the store and figured you’d fill it and put it on your desk. Maybe you devised a plan to get that cute looking, single coworker to come by. Whatever the initial thought, if you keep filling the candy jar, you are nurturing (unless you are still angling for the cute coworker…then maybe nurture is the wrong word 😉 )
My point is, as a woman, you have a “built in” nurture button, and you aren’t even aware of when it gets pushed! Isn’t this a beautiful characteristic of womanhood though? It allows us to meet the needs of other people, or if not meet their needs, at least make them a little bit more happy. Then, at the same time, we feel happy too. Isn’t that generous of God – that we can feel happy, contented, energized and just plain good about ourselves for doing something we were created to do – taking care of others! What perfect reciprocity!
Now, this is not to say that men can’t nurture – they are quite capable of nurturing. But it does not come as naturally to them. It is an effort. Men, are naturally protectors. A great example of this would be mine and my husband’s individual reactions to the birth of our daughter (our first child). I immediately began holding, nursing, cooing and touching her – nurturing. My husband on the other hand held her in his arms, his eyes teared up and then he said, “I have a daughter…. I need a shotgun now. I have to keep her safe.”
These two reactions speak volumes about how we are created – men and women – different but equal. Women are, by nature, nurturers. Men are, by nature, protectors. These are actually two of the archetypes of the sexes.
An archetype is a primal psychological structure in the collective unconscious of humanity that influences, not causes, men and women to think, feel, act, and value in specific ways. Authentic femininity and masculinity can be characterized through archetypes. They are fascinating to learn about and unpack and I am sure we will do so in later posts, as they truly can aid in our understanding of “why we are the way we are” as women, and just why men are the way they are too!
For now, though we are content to discuss the nurturer in all of us. I think a sad byproduct of living in our current cultural climate is that we feel like we have to suppress the nurturer in us. In the workplace, you get ahead by being more like the men. Nurturing is a sissy, weak thing. This is sad. If women were truly allowed to, and felt comfortable acting as they were created, the workplace would be revitalized. Women have a unique gift – the late Holy Father called it a Genius – to recognize the inherent dignity of every person. To see persons, not things, or groups, or numbers, but persons. Once this “recognition of persons” occurs, women then want to nurture them. To include them. To ‘mother’ them even. We can’t help ourselves, it how we were created. When we try to repress this natural tendency in ourselves it leaves us feeling cheated, empty, discontent, and restless. Any time we act against our nature we cannot be at peace. So this is our challenge. Our world is in desperate need of some good old-fashioned nurturing. Nurturing is, afterall, done in love. Love of neighbor, love of family, love or friend, and born from the Love of God. Let’s give it to ’em!
A great place to start is with soup. Yep. Back to the Chicken Nurture Soup. Since flu season seems to be in full swing perhaps you could unleash that inner nurturer and make some for some poor soul who has come down with it. I am sure we all know at least somebody. Maybe a coworker, friend, husband, child, mother or father. Whoever it may be, bring them soup! Nurture them!
Of course, you may be nervous to do this for someone who is not a family member. I understand there is always the small chance that your kind and loving gesture will not be met with thanks. That is uncomfortable for us, but you know what – don’t sweat it! There are some people today who so sorely need love that when they receive it they do not how to react. Give it any way. Nurture anyway. Its what you were born to do! Christ loved. They killed Him. God asked Mary to carry, raise, and nurture His Son, all so she could watch Him suffer and die. She nurtured and loved anyway. God our Father showers us with His love. He nurtures us, He romances us, He protects us and cares for us. Yet how often do we brush Him aside? And still He nurtures and Loves us unconditionally.
We do not nurture, we do not love in order to receive something back. We do it because we were created to. Because thats what our families, our friends, and our culture needs. The amazing paradox is that when we do, we feel happy and fulfilled to.
So, armed with your soup recipe, you can go and nurture the world! 🙂
Chicken Nurture Soup
1 whole chicken
lots of water
carrots (baby or whole)
yellow or white onion
(you can also add peas, green beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, or really any other veggie you can think of!)
In a stock pot place whole, rinsed chicken and cover with water. Simmer for 2-3 hours, or until cooked through. A trick for making sure the chicken doesnt adhere to bottom of the pot: once you notice some fat in the water gently lift the chicken out of the water and then put it back in. This will coat the chicken with the fat and keep it from sticking to the bottom. (It also means you dont have to add more oil or spray)
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken (it will most likely break apart so be careful!) and place it on a platter. Strain off most of the fat from the broth that you just made- but make sure to leave a little bit. Remove the meat from the bones of the chicken – you can let it cool while you chop veggies before removing the meat.
Chop up all the vegetables that need chopping. In a small frying pan put a little canola or safflower oil and then put a cup or so of water in it. Cut onions in half. Place cut side down in shallow water in the pan. Cover and simmer until the onions are tender. Remove onions and chop to a size suitable for the soup. Add some of the “onion water” to the broth. Continue to chop up the rest of the veggies. Put all the chopped vegetables in the broth. Add lentils (they do not need to soak first). Remove chicken from the bones and cut or pull into small pieces or shreds. Put the chicken in the broth. Add water until the pot is full. Add a few tablespoons of garlic or 2 chopped/crushed garlic cloves)
Sprinkle to taste any or all of the following spices: basil, parsley, thyme, tarragon, pepper, salt.
Cover the soup and let simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Add more water at any time if necessary.
The fun thing about this soup is that there are no real measurements. You add as much (or as little) as you want for taste. Keep in mind though, the more veggies the better. The goal is to release as much flavor and as many antioxidants and vitamins as you can. Thats why the fresher your ingredients, the better. This soup also freezes well, so make a bunch and freeze it in little Tupperware bowls for the next time you are sick or for when you want to give it away to someone else who might be. This is also a great soup for Mothers who just had a baby. Add some kidney beans for extra iron.
Enjoy! May God Bless your beautiful Feminine hearts – so full of love, so capable of nurturing and loving!