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What's That in the Soup? by kimby1967

Author: kimby1967
Title: What’s That in the Soup?
Rating: G
Theme: Sweet or Savoury (I chose savoury) Recipe!Fic Challenge
Elements: hearty
Author's Notes: Holly, adopted daughter of Estelle and Merry Brandybuck, is about twelve in hobbit years-old enough to know her way around a kitchen. Her little brother Perimac is seven in hobbit years. This is my first attempt at an LOTR fic in 8 years, so I am extremely rusty.
Summary: Holly learns something new to put into her chicken soup after a visit to Bree.
Word Count: 1532 including recipe
It was clear from the time that Holly Brandybuck could reach the stove that she had a passion for cooking. She did not want to learn only what would be necessary to feed a family one day, or to put only simple dishes on the table now. Holly loved to experiment with everything from carrots to dandelion greens to roast beef. Sometimes her dishes were a great success. On one less memorable occasion, when she accidentally undercooked some fish, she made her little brother and visiting cousin Faramir sick.
Then one evening, after Holly insisted on cooking the family dinner and served up green griddle-cakes, her father Merry observed his plate in silence for a moment and then said, “Holly, I’ve reached a decision.”
“She can’t cook dinner anymore?” Perimac asked hopefully. Holly glared at him.
“I know you really enjoy cooking, but…I think you’ve learned all you can learn from the kitchen here. I’ve made arrangements for you to travel to Bree and spend time in the kitchens at a new inn that opened last fall called the Whining Pig. I hear the meals served are so excellent that Men and hobbits alike go out of their way to eat there, and there is often two hours wait or longer for a table…”
Estella stood up. “You are not sending our daughter to work in the kitchen of a place called ‘The Whining Pig’,” she said sharply.
“The owner is a Man with a sense of humor who also apparently had a recent acrimonious separation from his wife in mind when he chose the name. Our friends Todo and Ivy Danderfluff moved to Bree recently; they are more than happy to have Holly stay with them while she is in the kitchen.”
“Thank you, Da!” Holly said joyfully, and hugged him tightly before running out of the room.
“Come back here please,” her father recalled her. “If we have to eat these, ah, green cakes, then so do you.”
Holly spent a full month in Bree under the tutelage of the quiet, sometimes curt man who ran the kitchen of the Whining Pig. He was the owner’s brother, and he had travelled extensively over the fifty years of his life, learning the cuisines of many lands. He told Holly to just call him Oat, and finally two days before she was to leave she asked him why he went by that name.
“Because I don’t tell my true first name to anyone,” he grunted. “The ‘Oat’ is the only part of it I’ll reveal. Now, I know you’ll only be here a couple more days, so there’s one more thing I want to show you that I can guarantee no one else where you live is going to know. In fact, I don’t know many men or women who know. I learned it from an Easterling many years ago; they make it all the time where they’re from.”
“Aren’t they all bad?” Holly asked.
Oat gave her a withering look. “And that disqualifies them from being good cooks? Now come over here, Miss Brandybuck. I’m going to show you how to make noodles. Grab that bag of flour there, and the basket of eggs.”
He instructed Holly to measure out three cups of flour and form a mound in the center, and then crack two eggs into the middle along with a cup of water.
“Now, mix that all around real well and now you’re going to knead it, just like you’re making bread.”
Holly’s arms ached by the time Oat was satisfied with the shape of the dough.
“Now, take this rolling pin, and you’re going to roll it out until it’s so flat you can almost see through it.”
Holly stared at him. “Why?”
“Am I the instructor here, or are you? Start rolling out that dough.”
Holly rolled and rolled and rolled until finally the dough was laid out in a long, flat rectangle.
“Good. Now get that kettle of water over there on the boil, and we’re going to cut this dough into strips, like this.”
Soon Holly had fifty-two evenly cut little strips of dough, still uncertain what they were going to do with them.
“Bring them over here to the kettle-yes, the water is boiling nicely-and throw them in. They’re going to cook for one minute, and then we’re taking them right back out.”
Soon, there was a glistening pile of strips of dough on a plate.
“These are noodles?” Holly asked dubiously. “I don’t know if anyone at home will like them.”
“Oh, they will after you fix them like this.” Oat took fresh butter, melted a little in a pan, poured it over the noodles, and added salt and pepper. “Now try it.”
Holly took a bite and her eyes got wide. “Oh…oh!”
Oat gave one of his rare smiles. “It’s good, isn’t it? You can add that to just about anything, or top it with just about anything, and make it good.”
All during the three-day journey home from Bree, Holly was writing down recipe ideas in a little blank book she had purchased in a shop there, thinking of all the things that Oat had taught her. It was cold and snowing a little by the time she reached home, and the first thing she wanted to make was soup.
She kissed her mother, hugged her little brother and father, and hurried right into the kitchen. “Pansy, I want to make soup. Don’t roast that chicken there-I need that. And I’ll need fresh corn, and carrots and onions from the garden. And I’ll need flour and eggs. That should do it.”
Pansy blinked. “Yes, Miss Holly, I’ll get those things for you.”
Holly brought two kettles of water to boil on the hearth; the first one she used to immerse the chicken that Pansy had planned to roast. She chopped carrots and onions with confident strokes learned from Oat, and then began mixing the flour and eggs and water for her noodles. Instead of the long thin noodles she had learned from Oat, Holly decided to cut the dough into little flat squares. It was too soon to start them cooking as yet.
She retrieved the chicken from the boiling water with a large fork, yelping with pain when she was stung with a bit of boiling water, and quickly checked the flesh to make sure it was cooked through all the way. It was, so she set it aside to cool.
In another pot, she added some chicken stock, the carrots, onions, and corn, and let it come to a boil. Her chicken had cooled enough to tear into strips; she did so and then tossed them into the pot with the vegetables and broth. Lastly, she quickly boiled her fresh noodles for one minute and added them to the pot.
“Dinner is served,” she proudly announced to her family twenty minutes later as she pushed in a cart bearing her kettle of chicken corn soup with noodles and a loaf of Pansy’s fresh baked bread with butter.
Perimac stared at his bowl. “Holly, what’s that in the soup?”
“They’re noodles,” she explained. “Oat, the cook that taught me at the Whining Pig, learned how to make them years ago from an Easterling. You take flour, water, and eggs, make the dough, roll it out and cut it into any shape you wish. I chose flat noodles for the soup.”
Estelle tasted hers first. “Holly…it’s delicious.”
Merry raised his eyebrows in a ‘you are saying that to make her feel good’ sort of way, but Estelle said, ‘No, it really is delicious. You must taste it.”
There was not a drop of the soup left at the end of the meal.

Chicken Corn Soup:
One whole chicken, giblets removed, or four large chicken breasts with skin
1 large bag of quality corn
2 bags mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery) or you can chop up the real thing if you are feeling ambitious
4 quarts Swanson chicken broth or chicken stock
1 bag pot pie noodles (or you can make your own. I learned from watching the Food Network).
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the chicken in a large pot; set aside to cool. In another pot, add the vegetables, the chicken stock, and the noodles if they are pre-made, and bring to a boil. If you make your own noodles, they only need to cook for about a minute before adding it to the soup. Pull the chicken into bite-size strips and add to the bot. Let simmer for half an hour. Mangia, mangia!


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 30th, 2014 10:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, I really like this! :) It's a delicious story in more ways than one! :) Please continue writing!! :)

Kaylee Arafinwiel
Oct. 30th, 2014 11:16 pm (UTC)
(blush) thank you.
Oct. 30th, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh, that does sound delicious! And now that the Shire knows about noodles, the possibilities are infinite. *beams*

Welcome back, Kimby.
Oct. 30th, 2014 11:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :-) Dreamflower pointed out that noodle making is an ancient art, so I chose an Easterling to teach Oat how to make them. :-)
Oct. 31st, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
I'm so happy to see this here! And that soup sounds absolutely wonderful.

I am sure that Merry and his family are thrilled that Holly has finally learned to be a consistent cook! (Still wondering about how she made green griddle-cakes, LOL!)
Oct. 31st, 2014 02:00 am (UTC)
It sounds like the perfect dish to start demonstrating to her family how well she's learned to cook in Bree. And good noodles are hard to beat!
Oct. 31st, 2014 07:48 am (UTC)
Oh hi! I'm also returning from a long break in writing so I sympathize! You did great, though - it's a lovely story! :)
Oct. 31st, 2014 02:59 pm (UTC)
Nov. 2nd, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)
There really is nothing like chicken soup for making you feel good on a cold day and this one sounds very tasty. I like Holly's enthusiasm for learning and Merry's bright idea to let her spread her wings away from home a little. Oat is blunt but clearly wants his young student to succeed. I think they can all look forward to many more tasty meals at Holly's hands! Please don't make us wait 8 years for more? :-)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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