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, peeled
2-3 large parsnips, scraped and cut in thirds
6 carrots, scraped 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. Put one of the onions in the cavity of the chicken. Cover (just) 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. Dissolve the bouillon crystals in some of the warm broth and then add to the pot. When boiling, skim foam off top. Simmer until chicken is done enough that a drumstick pulls off easily--about two hours.

Remove the chicken from the pot, and cool until it can be handled. (I take off (and discard) the skin and cut into the meat, to help it cool down a little more quickly.) Take the chicken off the bones and cut the meat into bite-size pieces (discarding the giblets). I discard the onion and celery from the broth. I then roughly mash the carrots and parsnips in the broth, but you can also leave them in chunks (cut up a little smaller so easier to divide into portions). 

I serve this as a main-dish soup, putting the chicken back into the broth-with-vegetables. If serving as a first course, you can strain out everything for a clear broth. Matzoh balls are a good addition to either version of the soup. 

about 8 matzoh balls
(adapted from recipe on the Manischewitz Matzo Meal box;
 you can also use a box of Matzoh Ball Mix)
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 (longer is fine).  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 1-2 matzoh balls in each bowl of soup.  Extras can be frozen and used later.