Category Archives: Soups

The Magic of Sharing: Serbian Creamy Chicken Soup

Serbian Creamy Chicken Soup from

No matter how many times I tell myself that I am a competent home cook, it takes only a well-intentioned, but misplaced comment from one of my girls to make me roll my eyes in disbelief and grind my teeth in an effort not to speak up and ruin the moment. One of those occasions involved an incarnation of a simple creamy chicken soup and my oldest daughter.

We were visiting my cousin who is married to a priest with a parish in one of the suburbs of Belgrade. For years, Mira and I have been pen-pals; we spent many summers together, playing badminton, sewing clothes for a couple of precious Barbies, and climbing hills above their house in Novi Pazar. We try to get together at least once a year if I am in Serbia, in hopes that our children will bond and friend each other on Facebook, and maybe get involved in a virtual game of badminton, if nothing else.

chicken soup vegetables from

vegetables for the stock (I save parsley stems)

The two of us managed to corral the six kids and deposit them around the dining-room table; I helped her carry the food from the kitchen, keeping a watchful eye on the group of unpredictable energetic girls and a token boy, the youngest of all. The first dish was a Serbian staple, a creamy chicken soup thickened with farina, eggs, milk, and a bit of flour, something we looked forward when we were growing up.

Sure, there was a picky eater in the bunch who pulled the tiny cubes of carrots to the rim of the bowl, but most of them stopped talking for a minute and surrendered to the comforting flavors of the dish and we were rewarded by a few moments of silence. I raised my girls to be respectful and kind, but I almost fell out of my chair when my oldest, Nina, who was ten at the time exuberantly chimed, “Aunt Mira, this is the best soup I have ever tasted! How did you make it?”

Pileca corbica from

Mira beamed, hiding her chuckle behind her hand, while I stared at my daughter with disbelief. She looked at us both utterly perplexed with childish innocence. I made that soup for her many times. So had Mother. But to her it tasted so different and so much better slurped in utmost disharmony with five other children who kept kicking one another under the table and competing in stupid jokes. The peasant fare became exotic not necessarily because Mira’s culinary achievements surpass mine (although she is a really good cook), but because she shared it with cousins she rarely sees in that welcoming kitchen with windows opening to the view of the green meadow and the parish church in those wonderfully lazy days of summer that bring promise with each sweltering moment.

Serbian Creamy Chicken Soup from

Serbian Creamy Chicken Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Serbian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
These thick, hearty soups are a staple at every tavern that attracts truck and bus drivers. They are made of leftover chicken, beef, and lamb, and nothing feels better on a rainy Autumn night.
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small or ½ big yellow onion, diced
  • a few carrots, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced (optional, but I really like the color and the sweetness it adds)
  • 1 cup of roasted chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp farina (cream of wheat)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • ¾ cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pan on medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery, and bell pepper (if used), and sautee until softened, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken and stock and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in farina. In a small bowl combine flour and milk and whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour into the soup and stir vigorously to break up the small bumps of flour.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes and turn the heat off.
  7. Mix together egg and yogurt in a small bowl.
  8. Pour a ladle of soup to temper it and stir to combine.
  9. Pour the warm mixture slowly into the soup, whisking, to avoid curdling.
  10. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley.

Una Sonrisa Menos: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Last Thursday morning, my friend Cipriano boarded a flight from Tijuana to Oaxaca  to reunite with his wife, children, and fourteen grandchildren that he had not seen in more than four years. A few days ago, a co-worker took him to a salon where he had his salt-and-pepper hair died a ridiculously artificial black toContinue Reading

The Year of the Horse

When he was in Medical School, Father had a Chinese roommate. This was back in the 50s, and Tzu-Ke-Lee attended the University of Belgrade on a Chinese scholarship studying Serbian language and culture. Even now, in his old age, Father can charm a linguist without being proficient in any language except Serbian, and in hisContinue Reading

Crying? Me? It Must Be the Onions

The first time I encountered French Onion Soup was in a fine dining Italian restaurant in one of the western suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, where I started working as a waitress right after my extremely unsuccessful stint as a security guard at a local skiing hot spot*. I considered myself suave and sophisticated, well-traveled andContinue Reading

Summer Corn Chowder to Welcome Ruby

When I was four months old, our family friend and one of the towns best pediatricians, Dr. Herzog, asked Mother if she had fed me meat yet. As I was her first, we used each other as guinea pigs and she struggled to find the proper balance of foods that would satisfy my voracious appetiteContinue Reading

Return of the Knight

I have been sick last couple of days. It’s one of those sneaky, insidious colds that first appear as a mere tingle in your throat, tricking you into believing that you can ride it out with all the flair of Richard Gere as Sir Lancelot in the movie “The First Knight”, only to have youContinue Reading

Kafka, Inspiration

I met Christianna of Burwell General Store blog last May at a BlogHer Food conference in Atlanta. We stayed up one night over a bottle or two of really good red wine and a sparkle of friendship was ignited. Even though both of us call Southern California our home, we have been getting to knowContinue Reading

Poetics in the Pot

Mother usually made her chicken or beef stock in a pressure cooker, a shiny metal beast that sat atop the stove spewing steam at and hissing like a dragon from some of the scariest Serbian tales. I tried not to pay attention to the ingredients she threw into the pot showing oh-so-typical disdain for such mundaneContinue Reading

The Center of the Universe

There is a room in this house that contains a television and a more comfortable sofa and chairs. That other room is, for reasons that elude me, often called a “living room,” even though most of the living gets done in this kitchen. From morning coffee to late night snack… and all the conversations and life moments that go with them… the living gets done here, in the center of the universe… in this kitchen.Continue Reading

Roux the Day

Flavorful Louisiana GumboContinue Reading