My grown son is now in his own condo and this collection of recipes I called, Dearest Michael were written when he was younger as you will see by my references, as a gift to him for this very moment.
Whether you read them for the story or the recipe, know that they were written as a tribute to the many people who have influenced my kitchen, my cooking and my notion of family.
Dearest Michael, As one of my first entries into this book I write for you, I must begin with Chicken Soup as number one.
The warm garlicky broth base has been our family go-to soup since you began eating real food. If you don't have the chicken, just make this as a vegetable garlic broth, it is still miraculous.
Its intense healing power has cured colds, flus, coughs, cold nights and has been part of our family cure-alls as well as our extended family for over twenty years.
Chicken Soup as been a proud member of our family menus for every Jewish Holiday we have celebrated in both small company and large gatherings of over forty for Passover, Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah.
Like many staple recipes, often they morph from others. This one started from one I found in a Bon Appetit Magazine called Garlic Soup. As a young and enthusiastic wife, I used to get cooking magazines well before cooking shows (except for Queen Julia Child of course) had their own network, let alone existed.
Ruth Reichl was the editor of Gourmet and I would hungrily read each of her entries from her travels and forge ahead with the recipes filled with butter, cream and some unusual ingredients.
“Back then” we mothers and fathers, if we were interested, (yours were) read cookbooks and cooking magazines for inspiration, teaching ourselves in the kitchen. This recipe transformed into the soup you know and love and is one of my favorite meals to cook for you as soon as the weather gets that first New England chill. I hope this recipe becomes your own reliable cold fixer of a meal when your future family begins. Until then, trust I will make it for you as long as you want me to.
I am imagining that with both Dad and my influence, you will add and tweak it to make it your own in your next twenty years as you head off on your own yellow brick road.
I Love You. Love Mom
*Because I make some product recommendations in my blogs, I may get a small commission as an affiliate and or an Amazon affiliate. Anything I recommend I personally use. I want to make it easier to shop for items you may not have, need to replace-- or if you are a lover of all things kitchen like me, just want to add to your collection.
Mom's (aka Alayne's) Jewish Chicken Soup Recipe
Chicken soup, known unofficially as Jewish penicillin, along with a hot cup of Earl Grey Tea and local honey is a winning combination for those pesky colds and feeling like one is coming on. This is not a soup that has big recongizable chunks in it, everything is chopped fine from the cuisinart, making it rich and easy to swallow. The abundance of garlic in the start of the broth and a dash of cayenne right before serving has healed many over the years. Like many of my recipes, this one is a great base for so many others. Start here and you will see that other great recipes along the way will come from some of this prep. Enjoy!
1. In a food processor, (My son purchased this one for me as a gift and I have never looked back) add the following: Garlic, carrots, celery stalks, onion Chop well until course and add to the heated oil. If you are old school chop till desired chunkiness.
2. Add at least 1-2 teaspons of fresh salt and pepper and a bay leaf- (more salt than you probably think- keep tasting after it cooks for a while- should taste tangy, not too salty, not bland. 3. Saute until fragrant and soft about 7–8 minutes- do not brown.
4. While this is cooking take the Cuisinart bowl (don't worry about cleaning it, you can just add the chicken) and add cooked chicken pieces- pulse till chunky. You can also chop with a knife if you want larger pieces or tear with your fingers.
5. Add chopped chicken to the pot and stirr well until heated, about 6–7 minutes.
6. Add 2 boxes of organic chicken stock or broth from stock (in comments below).
7. After adding the chicken to the pot, add the parsley to the Cuisinart and chop well.
8. Add 1/2 parsley to the soup.
9. Do a taste test. It should be tangy from the salt.
10. If you are adding rice- add about 1/2 cup here.
11. Bring to a boil
12. Then turn down and simmer for as long as an hour. You will probably need more salt and pepper- I used to add three bouillon cubes back in the day until I found out they were loaded with MSG so I stopped (but it does add a rocking flavor)
13. If you are adding matzo balls, you can do this anytime after they are ready, just follow the directions on the box if you are using the mix. they should be light and fluffy.
10 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING THE SOUP- Add a few handfuls of spinach leaves, the remaining parsley, a squeeze of lemon and a dash or two of Cayenne Pepper, this is especially important if you are making the soup because you or someone is sick. It seriously seals the deal.
Cover until spinach is just wilted and serve with the joy you know it will bring.
If you want to add them (and you will because this is the secret to this soup and this is what made you love it when you were little) go to the Jewish section of the grocery store and buy the box that says Matzo Ball Mix ( this is the easiest for the Matzo Ball layperson and follow the directions. (I use the broth from the soup instead of water to mix into the recipe)
Make them smaller than you think as they expand quite a bit.
The secret to them being fluffy is to drop them in the boiling water and cover the pan with the lid while they cook. When they float to the top, they are ready. Add them to the soup anytime. They won’t get mushy.
If you plan on freezing some of this, I suggest that you take out what you will freeze before adding the matzo balls. I have never found they freeze that well.
Matzo ball mix looks like this. You can find it at most grocery stores (in the "International Aisle). This is a 2 pack. Super easy to make.
* Shortcut Organic Rotisserie Chicken and Stock Tip
Purchase 2 Rotisserie Chickens. Remove all meat off of chicken that you will want for your soup and reserve 1 chicken worth in a separate bowl for the chicken salad recipe.
Leave some on the bone and place both carcasses into crock pot (or stock pot if you don't have a crock pot)
Cover with water and let cook all day or overnight, whatever you are comfortable with.
Strain broth into large bowl and remaining meat if there is any left
Use broth for your soup. If you have too much broth, freeze 1/2 for another soup later.