Last night a friend messaged me asking if I had heard about the death of a mutual friend, Tony Rathburn. I couldn't believe it so I immediately navigated to his Facebook page where I was stunned to see the RIP posts flowing in. He passed in his home in our beloved Buenos Aires. We don't know the full story yet but no matter what the autopsy findings conclude, there will be no solace. This is a painful tear in the beauty of the world, especially for the tango community. I dearly loved him but he was also loved by so many others so to selfishly weep for MY loss is unfair. Tony was a tremendous host and had a passion for making people feel special. He and I connected over food, as I'm sure he did with others. We shared a love of cooking and in delighting the taste buds of our friends. When living in Argentina with my best friend Olivia, Tony made many meals for us to enjoy as a family. When I was homesick, he cooked for me. When I was celebrating, he cooked for me. When I was physically ill, he cooked for me. His food enticed me over but his charming companionship made it easy to linger long after the meals were finished.
I was lucky enough to learn a few of Tony's recipes, mainly by assisting him in the kitchen as his official prep-cook and wine taster. There was one dish in particular that stuck with me: chicken noodle soup. In November of last year I wrote a blog post, Soup For The Soul, talking about the power of a good bowl of chicken noodle soup, well, Tony's chicken noodle soup. It took me a long time to get the official recipe from him.
One day, months later, Olivia and I were both not feeling well and we knew there was one sure way to heal our bodies and souls. After texting Tony on his phone and not hearing back, we decided to go to the store and try to get the ingredients from memory. I sent him a message on facebook begging for a hint of at least the noodle type.
Finally he messaged back as we were bringing up the groceries. It turns out we had everything we needed plus his preparation and cooking directions.
Food is at the center of my life. It is how I give love to those I care about and to those I'd like to be friends with. I believe Tony felt the same. His physical presence may be gone but he left such a mark on all of our hearts that his spirit will never leave. I wanted to remember and honor his life today by making the infamous soup. As I mentioned earlier, I know I'm not the only one hurting. He was loved and respected by so many of us. I think it's only fitting to share his recipe with all of you, so you may find comfort and maybe some healing, too. I simply ask that you do a few things. 1) Make the soup. It's fantastic. Just do it. 2) When you eat the soup, think about your favorite memory of Tony and please share it with me or someone else. Let's keep him alive in our hearts (and in our bowls of chicken noodle soup).
- 1 Whole Chicken
- 2 Large Cans of Chicken Broth
- 2 Sticks of Butter
- 1 Med-Large Sweet Onion
- Soy Sauce (Guestimate to your liking; Tony didn't measure)
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- Garlic, Basil, Oregano (Tony used the fresh stuff)
- Chopped Potatoes, Carrots, Bell Peppers (all optional)
- Wide Egg Noodles (Mueller brand was his favorite)
- In a large pot, add all ingredients, except noodles, plus just enough water to make sure the chicken is covered.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cook for an hour and a half.
- Take the chicken out of the soup and let it cool. Then take off all skin, shred the meat, and put it back into the soup.
- The soup is going to be VERY rich at this point (it's basically concentrate). Tony would take about half out and store it for later. Add water to fill the pan back up (diluting the concentrate soup).
- About 15 minutes before you are ready to eat, bring the soup back up to a light boil. Add the noodles. If you add them too early they get water logged.
- Replenish with left over broth and water (equal parts) as needed.