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Commentary: Let the chicken soup wars begin

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In September, 2011, Mark Bittman, food maven extraordinaire for the New York Times, published a sophisticated kind of plea for home cooking. But something stuck in my craw about his estimate of $14 for a roast chicken dinner for 4 or even 6 guests.

Imagineering a Gail Collins-David Brooks style dialogue, I scoped out local supermarket offerings to best his estimate. Here in Buffalo, I envisioned him saying, the prices were lower anyway, so what was my beef?

This week, as part of a rosy convalescent afterglow, chicken soup once again made the Buffalo Alternative Medicine column. The recipe is for its simplest form and guaranteed to bring about what chicken soup does best: cure just about everything.

Either the same ideas really do occur to great minds simultaneously, or The Buffalo News had a Mark Bittman moment.

This morning’s paper carries an article by Kathleen Purvis of the Charlotte Observer, “Tips to turn scratch cooking into family favorites.” In it, she takes on chicken soup, quoting David Tanis, another New York Times columnist.

According to Tanis, she notes, sautéing the vegetables before putting them in the soup amps them up, as does roasting both the bird and the veggies in the oven before starting the stock. Sounds promising.

Let the chicken soup wars begin.

Linda Chalmer Zemel teaches at SUNY Buffalo State College. She is the author of the new children’s book, Cousins, and the novel, Witch Hunt.

Contact Linda at



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