As soon as a member of the household is starting to feel somewhat under the weather, I write “chicken” on my shopping list and make plans to cook up a big pot of chicken soup as soon as possible.
Not only is it a natural Jewish penicillin that will help someone get healthy quicker, it can help you stay healthy and prevent you from getting sick! And, – it tastes pretty good too!
Most Ashkenazi Jewish families will have chicken soup as part of the Seder meal at Pesach, and our family likes it so much that we have it on many winter shabbats too.
My dear husband has not been feeling so well lately, and it was time for the chicken soup treatment. We also have weather forecasts for a winter storm coming up (and maybe, maybe, maybe we’ll get to see snow!!), so I imagine many a Jerusalem household smells like ours right now, – of chicken soup!
And since it seemed like such a relevant thing right now, I decided to share my recipe here on the blog. And it is really easy too! 🙂
one whole chicken
four peeled carrots
two onions, cut in quarters
a bunch of celery leaves
some fresh parsley
one ripe tomato
salt and pepper to taste
Ok, so, you need one whole chicken for about three liters of soup. Earlier I used to have the butcher cut the chicken into pieces for me, or attempt to do this myself at home, but then I figured that it really doesn’t matter if it is cut or not as it will be torn into pieces before it is served anyway. So now I only wash it well, and then place it directly into a pot with three liters (12 cups) of water.
I bring this to a boil, and then remove the white stuff that ends up on top, before adding the rest of the ingredients. My celery leaves were from the freezer this time, so they don’t look so fresh, but it is a really convenient way to keep the leaves when you have used the stems for something else, right? And to make up for it, – look at the parsley! It was picked moments before in my garden! 🙂
Now this is brought to a boil, and you just leave it there for hours and hours. At least three, but more is just fine, I have even left it overnight at times.
At this point you need to let it cool slightly, enough for you to be able to handle the contents with your hands. You sift the clear soup through a sieve, and remove the parts you want to keep and serve with the soup; – the carrots and the actual chicken-meat. Throw away the bones and the skin. But the tomato, the onion and the greenery you push towards the sieve and only throw away the very dry parts that won’t go through.
Tada, – here is your soup! Now you can slice your carrots and tear up the chicken and add it back to the soup, and it is ready to be served.
In our family, though, chicken soup is not really ready before there are matzo balls in it, – it doesn’t matter if it is not Pesach! The matza balls you can either make from scratch from matzo meal or you can make the instant ones were you just add eggs to a ready mix. I normally go for this last option, but I like to boil them in the actual soup, and then they of course take flavor and nutrients from the soup as they cook.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!
B’teavon and La’Briut!