Family Recipe

Chicken Soup Custard Recipe


-Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup

-4 eggs

Prepare 1 pot of Lipton’s Soup.  Let the soup cool to a luke warm temperature.  Whisk 4 eggs in a bowl.  Pour eggs into chicken soup and mix well.  Pour soup/egg mixture into small Pyrex bowls and cover each with foil.  Place foil covered soup bowls into a large pot.  Add water into until water level is 1/2 inch from top of foil covered soup bowls.  Cover large pot.  Bring water to boil, reduce to simmer.  Simmer for 30 min.

My mother told me that the recipe above was made and passed to my maternal grandmother, Mary Sasaki.  A woman made it for my grandmother when she was sick while in a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII.  My grandmother really liked the recipe and asked the woman for it.  However my mom told me that my grandma did change the recipe slightly from the version the woman in the internment camp made and gave to her.  My mom said that originally it was Campbell’s soup that was used but my grandma decided to switch to Lipton’s chicken soup because she liked the flavor better.  My grandma kept the recipe and then used to make it for my mother and my uncle when they were sick.  My mom said that she and her brother loved the chicken soup custard so much that my grandma eventually used to make it for them not only when they were sick but also randomly sometimes as a treat for them or if there was a special occasion and they asked that she make it for them.  My grandmother passed the recipe down to my mom and according to my mother, she tried making this chicken soup custard for my brother and I when we were young but we both did not like it.  Truthfully I don’t remember ever eating this but my mom says that is probably because she didn’t make it again for my brother and I after we both said we did not like it very much.

The recipe itself is not extremely difficult or complex, but the story behind it is fascinating to me.  Food tends to bring people together in social settings and as far as recipes are concerned in folklore the person who makes the food, the people they make it for and when or why they make it can be equally if not more meaningful that the recipe and the food itself.  This recipe ties my grandmother to that woman in the internment camp who made it for her.  Even though she doesn’t remember the woman’s name I believe the that aside from the fact that my grandmother liked the way it tasted, it is was the thoughtfulness and kindness behind it that led her to keep the recipe and make it for her children, and then pass the recipe on to them.  Additionally, this recipe reminds me of the folk medicine discussion we had in class about different things people do when they are sick despite the fact that there is no concrete or scientific evidence that says that doing that particular thing or eating that particular food will make you better.  This recipe reminds me of the popular notion that you should eat chicken noodle soup when you are sick.  I suppose the recipe could even be considered a variation of the chicken noodle soup because it does involve chicken soup.  I doubt the chicken soup custard made my grandmother better but I’m sure there is an emotional connection to the recipe and I’m sure she appreciated the woman kindness and generosity especially because when WWII broke out my grandmother and her father were living in American while her mother and other siblings were still in Japan, therefore it was only her and her father who were put into the internment camps.  I think that gender stereotypes and gender roles in society most certainly in the past have assigned domestic duties such as taking care of the children to women which explains even today, though gender roles in society are changing typically the mother takes care of the children, especially when they are sick.  However my grandma did not have her mother around during this time so a small gesture from a stranger such as making chicken soup custard must have meant a lot to her.  It is interesting to see how this piece of folk medicine evolved into somewhat of a family recipe as my grandma started to make the recipe not only when her children were sick but as a regular dish.  I told my mom that she broke the family tradition by not continuing to make the recipe, but I suppose its hard to pass on a recipe to your children especially if they don’t like eating what the recipe is making.

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