Grandma and The Pirates and Baba’s Chicken Soup

Last year all three boys couldn’t get enough of Jillian Jiggs and her wonderful pigs. Particularly my middle son would beg me to read it night after night prompting a search for other books by Toronto-based author Phoebe Gilman.

Allow me a side bar if you may, but if your child has a favourite book, I suggest a visit to the local library to seek out other books written by the same author even if your child is just thumbing the pages of picture books.  We have done this for Maurice Sendak, Melanie Watt and Audrey Penn (to name a few) and it never ceases to amaze me the discussion that inevitably ensues about which books are better and why and if the author remains a favourite or if it’s really about a penchant for a particular story.

But I digress.

Marry one passion for pirates with a fondness for Phoebe Gllman and that is how Grandma and The Pirates came to live at our house.


While Melissa is picking flowers in a nearby field, pirates are lured by the smell of noodle pie to her grandmother’s house.  The pirates kidnap Grandma and her pet parrot, Oliver, from her cozy cottage and take her to their ship so that she can cook for them.  Melissa, fearful for her grandmother’s safety, waits until nightfall to swim out to the anchored ship.  It doesn’t take long before the pirates come across their stowaway and now Melissa is prisoner too!  After a time of sailing the seas, Melissa, Grandmother and Oliver put their heads together to formulate a plan to escape the greedy, selfish pirates.

Grandma’s cooking is a theme in this story about plundering pirates seeking their fortune, so what better way to enjoy this book with its beautifully illustrated pictures than following it up with one of Grandma’s best-loved recipes?

While Melissa’s grandma made noodle pudding, my boys’ grandma made her celebrated chicken noodle soup.

Grandma and The Pirates + Baba’s Chicken Noodle Soup:

 The Perfect Recipe For a Rainy Autumn Afternoon.

1 Chicken 2 to 3 lb. or about 2 lbs. deboned and skinless chicken (this is easier and Baba swears by Costco’s chicken).

Wash and place chicken in large pot (about 8 litres) and cover with cold water.

Bring to boil, remove scum, add a tablespoon salt, and boil for about 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove chicken from pot and remove bones and skin if chicken is whole.

Put aside.

Into the water used to boil the chicken, put aromatics:
a large handful of parsley with stems, a few stalks of celery with leaves, large onion peeled and quartered, green leaves of a few leeks, a few cabbage leaves or broccoli stalks or cauliflower stalks.


Side note: If Baba knows that she is planning to make soup, she saves these in a baggie in the fridge.
Boil these aromatics in the soup for 20 minutes then remove and drain them. Taste soup for salt and adjust seasoning.

If you want, add 2 packets or 1 cube of chicken bouillon. Add
additional water if necessary.

Bring soup to boil and add spaghetti or fine noodles or any shaped pasta. The amount is contingent on the amount of soup there is and how much pasta you want in it.


My boys like it both noodley and with spaghetti – all the better for slurping!
Boil for about 2 to 3 minutes, taste for salt and adjust if necessary, then add the chicken and more water if necessary, and boil until pasta is done.

Remove from heat immediately and serve.


4 thoughts on “Grandma and The Pirates and Baba’s Chicken Soup

  1. Phoebe Gilman is especially neat for reading around in, because she plants visual allusions to her other books. I was astonished when my three-year-old pointed out that there is a picture on Jillian Jiggs’s bedroom wall of the castle in The Balloon Tree!

    • Kelly – You are so right! I am also amazed at what my boys see in the illustrations and remember from her other stories. I really enjoy her books too. I can’t say that for all of the books that they reach for 😉

  2. So excited to try this in the fall!!! I usually fail with soups, but I have a good feeling about this. And Phoebe Gilman will make it that much better– she’s one of our favourites!!!! Thanks!

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