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Chicken Soup to Sooth Your Soul

Great chicken soup is more than a food – it’s a complete emotional and physical experience - Jewish penicillin!

The mere aroma as the broth cooks down catapults you to childhood memories of Mom making you feel warm, loved and nurtured. The experience of the soup soothes and nourishes, and if you have a cold, just one steaming full bowl of chicken soup and you can feel your nose and chest open and clear up with tremendous relief. No wonder an authentic chicken soup recipe is worth its weight in gold!

The ingredients to Bubbi’s Chicken Soup are simple, but the most important thing you can do to make really great soup is use really great ingredients! Start with the freshest of vegetables, preferably those grown as close as possible to your own residence. Use vegetables so fresh that you can still smell the earth. Choose a fresh (not frozen) chicken from a reputable butcher – a butcher with whom you can establish rapport. Use spring water, clear and clean. Now you are ready to set out and bring home the following:
  • 3 – 4lb. Chicken – a nice hearty size for a rich broth!

  • 5 large deep orange carrots

  • 5 fragrant parsnips

  • 4 stocks of a celery heart

  • 3 juicy large onions

  • 5 cloves of fresh garlic

  • 5 sprigs of fresh dill

  • whole black pepper that you will grind yourself (yes start out fresh!)

  • sea salt

  • 10 cups fresh spring water

Upon returning home, you may want to reward yourself with a cup of tea as you take the time to set out your ingredients before you…

Gently unpack the chicken and take it to the sink. Remove the giblets bag from inside (if there is one). Here is the liver, heart and kidney. These should be rinsed and set aside. They will go into the soup. Next let the water run over and through the chicken to give it a good bath. Then let it drain for a moment and set it on a cutting board.

For great chicken soup you want the flavors to emerge from the bones. With a sharpened knife (be careful) remove the wingtips at the joint, remove the wings at the breast, remove the thighs from the backbone, remove the legs from the thighs and cut the breast in two. To allow for more flavor, cut each half of breast into two and if you have a cleaver, remove the ends from the legs to expose the marrow (optional). While some people remove the skin and fat, I don’t! Cook it instead! This will add greatly to the flavor and can be removed at the end.

Place all the chicken pieces (and giblets) into a large pot and just cover over with the fresh spring water.

As you bring this to a boil, use the time to prepare your vegetables. With a carrot peeler, remove the outside of the carrots and parsnips. Cut both into bite-sized medallions. Remove the skins from the onions, cut into half and half again. Cut the celery stalks into inch long pieces. Remove the skins from the garlic and use a fine garlic press to prepare the garlic. For garlic to achieve its optimum flavor it must be fine pressed or fully crushed. Next grind a full tablespoon of fresh black pepper. Set all these ingredients aside until the broth is fully prepared.

From time to time as you are preparing your vegetables, turn to check the chicken and water. Throughout this entire process you are caressing the chicken. Watch it carefully and lovingly. Bring it just to the boil and then reduce the heat slightly to keep it under a rolling boil. Within 5 – 10 minutes droplets of fat and wet marrow rise to the surface. Using a tablespoon, gently skim the surface of the soup to remove the fat and marrow. (Place what you skim into a soup bowl as you continue this operation. Hold the soup bowl in one hand as you skim and remove with the other. When compete you can dispose of this by placing in a jar then in the garbage, or as I do, mix with dish-soap and then pour down the drain.) Every few minutes skim the soup to remove the fat and marrow. This is the most important part of preparing the chicken soup you love! This will provide for a beautiful clear broth.

After about 20 minutes of allowing the fat and marrow to rise and be skimmed, let the chicken continue to cook for another 20 minutes. After this time, do a final skimming. The more fat you remove, the leaner the soup!

Now you are ready to introduce the fresh vegetables. Carefully and gently (remember the water is hot) place the vegetables, the sprigs of fresh dill, garlic and pepper into the pot with the chicken and water. Add a teaspoon of sea salt. If the water does not cover the vegetables, add more now.

You have used wonderful ingredients, prepared them lovingly and introduced them to each other. Now is the time to sit back and let nature take its course. You see, because you used great ingredients, even if you made a few mistakes, the recipe will show forgiveness and will blend perfectly.

Allow the ingredients to cook and blend for a good hour (just under the boil) – the longer the better. After an hour you can turn off the soup and allow it to cool. When it has cooled somewhat, it is time to taste the broth! At this point you can add more garlic, salt or pepper to your own taste. And here you still have choices…

Some people like large pieces of chicken to place in the bowl with the soup for a hearty meal that demands a fork as well as a spoon. Personally, I like to remove all the chicken so the meat can be separated from the bone and skin. After the meat has been removed from the bone it can be broken apart (nicer and actually easier than cutting) and returned to the soup (without the skin).

 

Reheat and serve with fresh bread – egg bread if available in your area!

 

 

Spice it up!

 

Go Thai! 

Add a tablespoon of lemon grass and a teaspoon of crushed chili peppers. Beat two eggs in a bowl and while the broth is at the boil, slowly add the beaten eggs to the broth while gently stirring the broth. Serve with glass noodles.

 

Go Oriental 

Add a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a couple shakes of sesame oil and serve in a bowl with fresh chopped green onions and dry noodles.

 

Go Mexican 

Add two tablespoons of chili powder to the broth and a heaping tablespoon of spicy salsa to each bowl. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.

 

Go Indian

Thicken the broth by first mixing a teaspoon of cornstarch in an ounce of cold water. Add this to the broth while on the boil. Boil three large potatoes until cooked. Cut into large bit size pieces and put into the soup. Add two tablespoons of curry powder. Let flavors blend for an hour. Serve with rice. 

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