Oh yes, it doesn't seem like anything fancy. But a good chicken soup is absolutely delicious, it has health benefits that go beyond what you'd expect - it helps with congestion, it's antibacterial and antiviral, and very useful for healing yourself when you're under the weather. But most importantly - it tastes marvelous!
If you've only ever had the canned stuff or whatever it is they serve in diners, you're missing out.
This recipe will make enough soup to feed 10 people 2 or 3 nice sized bowls each. You can vary the amount of water you use; don't go too thin with it. We make this a few times a year, around the new year, holidays, etc. - It's a big, and not inexpensive undertaking, but the best things in life aren't cheap - remember that :) We make 4 big pots, it takes up the whole stove.
This recipe is at least a hundred years old, as it goes back 4 generations.
13-15 LBS of carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3" long sticks. Buy the big 5lb bags.
3 LB of onions, cut into 1/4s
7 Large parsnips, peeled. Large = about as big as 2 carrots.
4 Bunches of dill.
3 LBs of tiny baby creamer potatoes, peeled. These are cheaper loose than in the bags.
24 Chicken Breasts.
Many empty quart jars, canning jars, old may jars, etc.. to hold the broth. At least 10-15
Carrots should be nice and fresh. Onions are your standard yellow or brown onion, not red. Parsnips are an absolutely critical ingredient - they add a full earthy brothiness to the recipe that helps bring the other flavors together. Dill is absolutely essential - MUST be fresh, the powdered dry stuff is virtually worthless. It can be expensive, but don't skimp, do it right. Chicken breasts aren't that expensive really, and when you're done with this recipe, you have poached chicken breasts - perfect for making gourmet chicken salad (to be discussed in another post!). But basically, when making chicken salad, the best way to do it is by poaching the chicken in an herbed broth - which is exactly what we're doing here :)
This recipe assumes you're using 4 pots. If, somehow, you have 10 or 15 gallon pots, (perhaps you're a home brewer? :) ), you can use that instead.
1) Add 6 chicken breasts to each pot, rib side down. These go on the bottom.
2) Quarter the 3 pounds of onions, place them in each of the pots.
3) Chop the parsnips as much as needed - we won't be saving them after the recipe (unless you like to snack) and add them into the pots.
4) Peel and chop the carrots, place some in each of your 4 pots.
5) Add enough water to cover everything, up to the top of the pots, put the heat on high, and bring to a simmer. Be sure you're using COLD WATER if from the tap, never ever use hot taper water in cooking.
6) Once the soup is simmering, turn the heat down, SKIM THE FAT. It will make the soup oily and less healthy.
7) After you've skimmed the fat, add in the dill. You do this to avoid skimming off the dill :)
Let cook for 3 hours or so, simmering just so.
8) Add in the potatoes.
Simmer for another hour at least, to cook the potatoes.
That's it, you're done!
Now, here comes the hard part - refrigeration.
The soup will not develop it's flavor until it has been chilled for a few hours in the fridge. Yes, seriously. Fresh cooked, it doesn't taste like a whole lot. The magic happens overnight.
Enjoy a few hot fat-cooked potatoes for your hard work - Mmmmm, delicious cooked in the hot fat aren't they? I know it.
Skim out the veggies you want to keep. This would be the carrots and potatoes, although you can keep everything if you want. Decant the broth into jars - this speeds cooling.
|Hot chicken soup cools faster when placed into multiple containers.|
Once the jars are decanted, and at room temperature, place them in the fridge, you're done! Save the veggies to add back into the soup when you reheat it the next day. You can also skim the fat off the top of the jars and save it - this is rendered chicken fat or schmatz. It is a superior cooking fat and ever so delicious! More on schmaltz in a future post.
In another post, I'll also let you know how to make matzoh balls - a delicious and classic addition to matzoh ball soup.
But yeah - enjoy! This is the best chicken soup in the world - expensive, and time consuming - but worth every minute and every penny. Once you try this, you'll never be able to go back to regular chicken soup again :)