Chicken Soup

My first apartment out of college was in the heart of Manhattan, NY.  I shared a two-bedroom place with my oldest stepsibling, Lauren.  We were lucky and had a very decently sized kitchen - something that was hard to come by in NYC with a monthly budget of our size.  

Since I was now living on my own, I wanted to continue family traditions during the Jewish holidays and try my hand at Matzah Ball Soup.  Granted, I was using a boxed mix for the matzah balls and chicken stock for the broth, but I still never made this soup myself.  It felt like a right of passage to have to master this recipe in order to become a Jewish mother in the future.

The soup turned out delicious!  Lauren and I devoured it.  And we had plenty of leftovers - about enough to last a whole week.  I divided the rest into the largest containers we had and kept it on the kitchen counter to cool for a bit before I would move it to the fridge.

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The next morning, I woke up and went to make breakfast.  And I was greeted by ALL the containers of soup that I forgot to put away!!  My heart sank.  ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?!  My hours of hard work in the kitchen wasting away right before my eyes.  The soup wasn't salvageable because I had used chicken stock for the broth and eggs in the matzah balls - two ingredients which don't hold up well sitting at room temperature for 8+ hours.  You'd bet I told myself I would never make that mistake again.

Life went on and I had made some other soups, but never totally from scratch.  Fast forward about five years and I finally felt like I was ready to conquer chicken stock from scratch.  I called up my mom, asked for some advice, and went on my way.  I gathered all my ingredients - sweet potatoes, onions, parsnips, turnips, celery, carrots, a whole chicken, some vegetable stock and prepped away.

After about 4 hours of a medium-heat rolling boil, I yielded a stock that was out-of-this-world delicious.  I couldn't believe it was that easy (albeit time consuming) to make stock myself.  W O W.   

After Dave and I enjoyed a big bowl of soup that night, I proceeded to divide into containers to cool.  

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And...I forgot to put it away.  AGAIN!  I think I stood there frozen in shock this time for a good ten minutes before I could totally register what I had done.  You would think I would learn my lesson the first time.  Except this one pulled on my strings a little harder because I poured my heart into that soup pot.  

UGH!!

If there's anything I learned from this experience, it is to SET A TIMER or ALARM so you don't forget to put it away!

Shame on me.

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I told myself that incident couldn't stop me from making soup again in the future.  So I tried it again, this time setting a timer, with much success.

One of the best things about this chicken soup recipe is that it is so versatile.  I always add in some veggie stock (thanks for the tip, mom!) in addition to all the veggies for an extra boost of flavor.  You can add in other veggies you love or have on hand, or omit any that you dislike.  I like playing around with fresh herbs - current favorite is some fresh dill!  I also love that so many of these veggies can be found at our local farmers market throughout the year, making it that much fresher and flavorful.

Here's how to make it.  But don't forget to refrigerate it before the night is over ;)  

 

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Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken (neck and giblets removed)
  • Celery Stalks, washed and cut into thirds
  • Carrots, peeled and quartered
  • White Onions, peeled and halved
  • Turnips, peeled and quartered
  • Parsnips, peeled and quartered
  • Sweet Potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1.75 gallons of filtered water
  • 32 oz low sodium gluten free vegetable broth
  • Lots of salt and pepper
  • Optional: Fresh Dill

*The beauty of this recipe is that you can use as many or as little veggies, or any variety of veggies as you want.  The more veggies you use, the more flavorful the stock will be.  For this soup, I used about 8 celery stalks, 8 carrots, 5 parsnips, 3 turnips, 3 small onions and 2 sweet potatoes.  

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly wash the chicken and place directly into the largest stock pot you have.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables by washing/peeling/slicing/chopping.  Add them to the stock pot.
  3. Add the water and vegetable broth.  Give it a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. 
  4. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat to medium.  The soup will continue to boil for about four hours.  Mix about 3-4 times per hour.
  5. You can give it a taste after about an hour and a half.  Don't taste too early as you don't want the chicken to be raw!  You'll need to add lots of salt and pepper as you go.  The key is tasting every so often and adjusting the seasoning each time as you see fit.  The more time that passes, the more developed the flavor will be.
  6. After the four hours, take out the chicken.  Begin shredding it (it will be fork tender!) and remove any bones and place them into a discard bowl. 
  7. It's always a good idea to strain the soup, to make sure you catch any stray bones at the bottom of the pot.  You can also remove any of the veggies that mushed up, and keep the ones that remained whole.
  8. Combine the strained broth, shredded chicken and remaining veggies. 
  9. Serve hot and enjoy with matzah balls, noodles for some chicken noodle soup, as-is for a heart-warming meal, or any other way you can dream of!