This column will focus on making cooking easy and simple. We begin with a perennial favorite dish – Chicken Soup.
There have been so many volumes written about chicken soup – so many recipes and so many ingredients. I have always thought the most important ingredient ever added to chicken soup was the love of a yiddishe mama.
Now, my chicken soup is a whole production – but I don’t cook soup every week, I use a 20 quart pot and make enough for a few weeks. And then I have more than soup. As you will see over the next few columns, when I am done, I have carrots and potatoes for potato salad, I have vegetables to make into side dishes and much more. Once you see how much one pot of soup can produce, you will agree that it is worthwhile to try.
My Chicken Soup Recipe
Water to cover, plus 3 cups
3 – 4 knuckle bones and/or other bones (I love knuckle bones, they give body and taste to the soup and are delicious to eat. Chicken bones are messy, not so flavorful and it’s hard to remove them from the soup.)
4 – 8 chicken quarters (Or more as needed)
1 – 10 carrots (Carrots add sweetness to the soup. You can put in one or ten—it’s up to you.)
1 – 2 zucchini (Zucchini is a great vegetable. It needs to cook for only a short time and can be used peeled or unpeeled.)
4 – 10 cloves garlic (Garlic adds taste and vitamins.)
1 potato (Potatoes add very little flavor to the soup, however, it is a good way to cook them for other dishes. Just keep in mind that they cook faster than some of the other vegetables and tend to sink to the bottom. If you are using them, be sure to fish them out long before the soup is ready or they will disintegrate.)
1 onion (I generally discard the onion once the soup is ready.)
1 sweet potato (This is a great soup vegetable – it adds a lot of sweetness.)
1″ – 2″ piece ginger (Ginger has a very strong taste; a little piece the size of a thumb can be detected in a large quantity of soup.)
1 kohlrabi (This is a great addition to the soup. Kohlrabi is a versatile vegetable that can be served on it’s own or added to other dishes.)
1 chayote (This vegetable can be found at most fruit stands. It looks like a flattened green pear and the taste is similar to a kohlrabi.)
1 small butternut squash
1 jicama (This vegetable is a newcomer in my kitchen, but a welcome one. It tastes like a sweet turnip.)
2 – 3 stalks celery
2 – 3 parsnips
1 celery knob
½ of a Fennel (Fennel tastes like licorice.)
¼ of a Rutabaga (Rutabaga is a large ball, half yellow and half purple.)
¼ of a head of cabbage
½ a head of Cauliflower or one bag frozen
1 bunch parsley greens (Parsley is added at the last 10 minutes of cooking.)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
About 2 tbsps chicken soup mix without MSG
Put bones, chicken, and any other meat you would like to use that Shabbos, into your largest pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. As soon as it boiled, turn off the heat, take the whole pot to the sink and pour everything out. Rinse all the pieces and the pot, return only the chicken and meat to the pot, add enough water to cover plus 2 to 3 additional cups and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a low simmer.
Now add the vegetables. First add the root vegetables, the ones that cook the longest, such as carrots, kohlrabi, onions, chayote, etc. Cook until tender, remove, and add the other vegetables. Don’t forget to take out the chicken quarters after about 35-50 minutes of cooking. Last, add the parsley greens.
Simmer on low for four hours.
After putting so much effort into cooking chicken soup, don’t waste a drop. Drain the soup through a sieve; the clear soup should be stored in covered plastic or glass containers, divided according to your family size. Keep in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, skim off the fat and then put the containers into the freezer.
(By the way, any combination of the above vegetables can be used in chicken soup. If you are short on time the minimum is carrots, onion, garlic and parsley added to chicken and water. Cook for about an hour on a low flame after it has boiled.)