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Home is Where the Soup is



Soup has always been a big thing in my life. Being Cantonese, it is almost mandatory to have soup in every meal. My grandmother would normally scoop a small bowl of soup for each of her grandchildren each time we dine together. My brother would hardly finish his, and I would ask for seconds. And since my mom, a great cook all-around, makes delicious, nutritious, 0% MSG soup all the time, I would normally finish the entire pot of soup by the end of the day.

My favourite would be the water crest soup and now that I’m away from home, it is a must-have each time I go back. My mom always tells me that since I drink so much soup, it would not only rain on my wedding day – it’ll mostly likely flood too! Honestly, I haven’t encountered soup that I didn’t like. From beetroot soup to bitter gourd soup – I love em all!

During my university days (I feel so old saying that), I got my dose of soup for RM1.20 at the nearby economy rice shop, where the kind uncle would only charge us RM1.00 if he was the one at the counter. I’m sure those bowls of soup were MSG-laden but when you’re a lazy poor student, that was all you had.

But now that I’m working, I can’t use that excuse forever. My mom gave me this magic-cooker when I moved out early last year and the only time it was used was when my mom was in town to use it herself!  She didn’t give up on me though – she would buy packets of Chinese herbs and kept them in my fridge in case I would want to make some for myself.

And yesterday, I finally decided I had to. I bought a full chicken drumstick, cleaned and threw the fatty fat away, and kept it refrigerated. This morning, I put some water to boil, blanched the chicken with hot water, then chucked everything into the magic cooker. Screwed the lid shut, and went to work. By the time I came back, my soup was done, and the chicken was tender to the bone! I didn’t add anything fancy, since this is my FIRST attempt (after so many donkey years of drinking soup), and I might just try something else next time.

As I slurped my bowl clean, I picked up the phone and reported the success to mom. We spoke for the next 1 hour and 15 minutes about everything under the sun (her cookies, my job, Chinese New Year, family, etc.) and I reminded her that I’m looking forward to my water crest soup when I’m back for Chinese New Year.

It’s different, this soup. No one cooks this soup the way my mom does. It’s not about the natural sweetness or the lack of MSG (I’m sure many could boast about this in their soups too!) – but there’s just something about it that makes it different from the ones I’ve had outside. And because it’s so special, it reminds me of home.

Now that I realize making soup on my own isn’t that hard, I foresee myself experimenting more and more in time to come. But mommy’s soup, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to replicate. Because some things, even a magic cooker can’t make.

I’m going to go finish the rest of the soup in the pot now.

About the author


Fueled by coffee and thrives on kindness. Generally pleasant.

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weivern.com Bit by Bit, Putting it Together