Sophie has two grandmothers. Her bubbe makes her chicken soup with kreplach, carrots and parsley. Her nai nai makes her chicken soup with wontons, bamboo shoots and green onions. They both make it just like their own grandmothers did for them a long time ago.
The soups are, as Sophie says, “a little different, a lot the same,” —and she has a plan to prove it. Sophie invites both grandmas over and serves them bowls of their soups mixed together. And guess what? It tastes delicious.
Jewish grandmas have long claimed chicken soup to be a cure-all, the “Jewish penicillin.” Science has since proven what grandmas knew by intuition all along; chicken broth has anti-inflammatory properties that help cure the common cold.
Today, more than half of Jewish children born in the United States have only one Jewish parent, just like Sophie perhaps does in this story. They may have a bubbe as well as a halmoni (Korean), abuela (Spanish), or yiayia (Greek) who makes them samgye-tang, sopa de pollo, or avgolemono.
The humble yet oh-so-comforting chicken soup makes an appearance in cuisines around the world, and nothing tastes quite as good as food made in grandma’s kitchen. The secret ingredient is the same, after all, no matter where you are. That ingredient is love.
There is perhaps no better way to start the conversation with children about navigating multiple identities than over a steamy bowl of chicken soup.