Now that we know chicken soup has been scientifically proven to help cure colds , I think it’s safe to say it’s a must-have during cold/flu season. I was sick for a few days last week, so as soon as I had the energy, I knew I had to make my family’s chicken soup recipe. This recipe is the BEST, you guys. Don’t ever buy canned chicken soup again.
The key to my family’s recipe is LOTS of chicken and a comparably small amount of water (and everything else). Never add anything too starchy to the broth (potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.) unless you want to soak up all that precious liquid gold, as my family calls it. You can add starch to individual bowls if you so choose.
You’ll need (makes 6-8 servings):
Pieces from a whole bone-in chicken or variety of chicken parts (make sure you get light and dark meat, and definitely make sure it’s not deboned)
2-3 parsnips, roughly chopped and divided in half
3-4 carrots, roughly chopped and divided in half (I wouldn’t use baby carrots in this recipe)
2 onions, roughly chopped and divided in half
1-2 tbsp fresh dill, divided in half
3/4 C chopped fresh parsley, divided in half
plenty of salt and pepper
Add all ingredients (use half of the veggies/herbs and set the rest aside for later) to a large soup pot and fill with cold water until it’s about half an inch below the chicken/vegetables. For richer broth, use even less water.
Bring to a boil and then cool to a simmer for around two hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Refrigerate the soup for an hour or so to cool it, until the fat rises to the top and hardens.
Skim the fat off the top. SAVE IT!
Strain the chicken, vegetables, and herbs from the broth. The vegetables will probably be mushy enough at this point that you won’t want to eat them. However, if you like the texture, feel free to save them/keep them in the soup.
Debone the chicken and return the meat to the broth.
Put the soup back on the stove with the other half of the veggies and herbs.
Simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, or until the veggies are tender.
After I made the soup, I knew it needed the finishing touch: matzo balls. Shockingly, I’ve NEVER made matzo balls, though I’ve certainly eaten my fair share. I like my balls small and hard (TWSS, etc.), so if you like yours fluffy, you can pretty much disregard this recipe and follow the recipe on the container of matzo meal. But I would still highly, HIGHLY recommend adding chicken fat (schmaltz), or using it instead of the recommended amount of oil.
To get the scoop on the best balls, I called my grandma. I mean, who makes better matzo balls than a Jewish grandmother?! She was a bit concerned that it was 8pm and I still had to make the balls, since her method calls for many steps including overnight refrigeration. So I took her suggestions but streamlined the recipe, and my balls were ready in about 25 minutes!
For matzo balls, you’ll need (makes 10-12 smallish balls):
2 eggs (for fluffier balls, add another egg)
3/4 cup matzo meal
1/2 cup green, white, or yellow onion
1/3 cup chicken fat
salt and pepper to taste
Bring ~2 quarts of cold water to a boil in a large sauce pan.
Add the chicken fat to a pan and heat until liquified.
Start sauteing the onion in the chicken fat. Cook until browned. If you have time, let the onion really caramelize slowly over low heat. I didn’t have time.
Strain the onions (I actually threw mine in the soup broth because they were pretty tasty!) and set the chicken fat aside.
Mix the matzo meal and egg well.
That’s chicken fat. Yum.
Add lots of salt and pepper.
Let cool for 5 minutes in the fridge and then form small balls.
Boil for ~20-25 minutes for harder balls, or around 35 minutes for softer balls. I like my balls barely cooked, so I boiled mine for less than 20 minutes.
To store balls, put them in a small tupperware container with a small amount of broth to keep ‘em moist. Don’t add them to the pot of soup (see previous note about starch in the broth)! Just add them to individual bowls when serving.
This is the best cold/flu remedy there is. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself next time you’re feeling under the weather. There’s no way it won’t make you feel better.