Monday, December 6, 2010

Chicken Soup

This is the chicken soup I grew up with, the recipe my mother got from her mother (Annie Schine). The real thing--Jewish chicken soup. This soup really does make you feel better if you have a cold or the flu. When I make up a batch, I freeze a few containers, so I have some on hand when it's needed. It's probably even better if a person you love makes it specially for you, when you're sick.

When I was a sophomore in college, I came down with a serious case of mononucleosis, and wasn't eating. My mother flew to Chicago from New Haven to take care of me. (So it must have really been bad. This was the only time she or my dad came to Chicago until I graduated.) Before she even came to my apartment-dorm, she stopped at the grocery store to buy the fixings for chicken soup. I ate it, and I began to get better. Thanks Mom.

1 large chicken (4-5 lbs. is nice; if need be can use a smaller chicken & some pieces)
2 medium onions, cut in half
2-3 large parsnips, cut in thirds
4-6 carrots, cut in halves or thirds
4 stalks celery, with leaves
about 1 T. chicken bouillon crystals

Put chicken (and giblets, except liver) in very large soup pot. Cover with water. While bringing to boil, prepare vegetables and add to the pot. You can add more vegetables, as much as there is room for in your pot. Add bouillon crystals.  When boiling, skim foam off top.  Simmer until chicken is done enough that a drumstick pulls off easily. Let it cook a couple of hours to get a rich broth.

Remove the chicken from the pot, and cool until it can be handled. Take the chicken off the bones, discard the skin, and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. I discard the onion and celery. I either leave the carrots and parsnips in chunks, or mash them into the broth.

Serve with cut up chicken meat, carrots and parsnips.  Or strain out a clear broth and serve plain (or with matzoh balls).

For matzoh balls (adapted from recipe on the Manischewitz Matzo Meal box; makes about 8 matzoh balls):

2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 T. vegetable oil 
1/2 c. matzoh meal
1 T. soup stock or water

Blend eggs, oil, and matzoh meal together with a fork.  Add 1 T. stock or water.  Cover and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes (or longer).  Bring a pot of water to boil.  When water is boiling, turn down the flame to medium.  Wet your hands and form matzoh mixture into balls about 1" in diameter.  (They will swell up in cooking).  Drop the balls as you form them into the boiling water.  Cover the pot and cook 30-40 minutes.  

Serve matzoh balls in the soup.  Extras can be frozen and used later.

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