Mexican Chicken Soup

The word of the day is “la gripa,” cold or flu.

Even though it is sunny and warm, it is cold season in Mexico, just as it is in the States. And just like everywhere, when one person brings home a cold or the flu, they generously share it with other family members.

When Irma was under the weather recently (now there is one of those “what does that mean?” expressions), I thought I would make chicken soup to help her feel better faster.

I was busily chopping onion and garlic while the chicken was starting to simmer in the pot when she appeared to fulfill her duty to make lunch. When she insisted on handing me the alphabet macaroni (something I was never fond of except for spelling practice), I had to explain that I was making “sopa Americana por la enferma” (American soup for the sick) or she would have nothing of it. Later when the hot, fragrant broth was set before her, she gingerly tasted it and declared it “muy bueno” very good.

Here, the treatment for what ails you — whether la gripa, a broken bone, anxiety, depression, or anything in between — is sopa made with alphabets in a tomato broth. Apparently, they believe in the healing capacity of alphabet soup as we do in chicken broth.  Science just might disagree though, as this article from Web MD points out.

It is not like Mexicans do not make chicken soup, as this photo of a recent lunch will attest to.

Mexican chicken soup

“Look mom, there’s a foot in my soup!”

I always wondered what they did with these.

Chicken foot sculpture, market, Chilpancingo, MexicoAs an amusing anecdote. An American friend of mine once told me about when he and his wife first moved to a small town in Mexico. Chicken feet were highly valued, and chicken breasts were almost given away. They said they never ate better.

To each his own.

My grandmother always preferred what she called the “Shteets,” those two tiny specks of meat “that jump over the fence last” (the tail bone). I was never really sure if she liked that part best or she was making sure that everyone else ate high off the bird while she was satisfied with a bite or two.

By the way, they do not eat the chicken feet, they just flavor the broth with them. (I stand corrected, many do eat them. Eeeeew!)

What is your favorite remedy for a cold?