chicken soup

It’s funny how necessity is the mother of invention. Just yesterday morning, I was trying to think of what to write for you today. I had cooked nary a thing since Thanksgiving – I’ve been working late and from home. My camera, now fixed, has no battery as the battery decided to expire during the time the camera was in the shop. Perfect timing, I thought, not that I had new dishes to photograph. Around 3pm yesterday, there was a funny tickle in my throat, and by the time I left work around 7pm, my throat was hurting and I was getting chills. We went to bed around 10pm, my body achy, feverish, having taken Airborne and Tylenol. I had a hunch it wasn’t going to be gone by the morning.

Well, I awoke this morning and could barely swallow. I think it’s safe to admit I am sick, though with what is yet to be determined. I haven’t had a throat this sore in ages, and I’m hoping it’s just a cold. Hoping. And this is where the dish of today is going to come in.

Whether it’s really true that chicken soup cures colds, or it’s a dish of comfort from our childhood, it’s something I instantly crave when I realize I’m sick. It’s a soup that makes me feel cozy, warm, even stronger. While I won’t be cooking it for myself (I’m sick and all and will probably spend my day lying on the couch), KS has volunteered to make it for me. The only decision I’ll have to make is noodles or matzo balls?

Some months ago, KS and his mom went to the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side (which I’ve now joined as a member) and brought me a gift – The Second Avenue Deli Cookbook!! With traditional Jewish recipes like brisket, latkes and chicken soup. Now, of course, a lot of us have made chicken soup before from scratch and without a recipe! It’s a basic. But the chicken soup here is a good building block. Especially if you have never made one from scratch and wanted a good recipe to start. You can play around with flavors, herbs, seasonings though – it’s a difficult thing to ruin.

And so while I won’t be making this myself, I can tell you – it’s a great-tasting soup! And I’m certain that a few bowls of it, will surely make me feel better!

Chicken Soup
Adapted from The Second Avenue Deli Cookbook

Makes 8 servings.

1 pound chicken parts
2 stalks celery, including leafy tops, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 whole chicken, thoroughly rinsed
Salt to rub inside chicken
1 large whole onion, unpeeled (find one with a firm, golden-brown peel)
1 large whole carrot, peeled
1 medium whole parsnip, peeled
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bunch of dill, cleaned and tied with a string
Note: The Deli’s recipe calls for both a whole chicken plus 1 pound of chicken parts. You can, however, use just 1 large chicken and cut off both wings, the neck, and a leg to use as parts.

1. Pour 12 cups of cold water into a large stockpot, and throw in the chicken parts and celery. Bring to a boil. While water is heating, rub the inside of the whole chicken with salt.
2. Add the chicken to the pot, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Test chicken with a fork to see if it’s tender and fully cooked; then remove it from the pot, and set aside on a large platter. Leave chicken parts in the pot.
3. Add onion, carrot, parsnip, salt, and pepper. Let soup simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
4. When chicken cools, remove skin and bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. You can add it to the soup, just before serving, or save it for chicken salad.
5. Strain the soup, and discard everything solid except for the carrot.
6. Drop in the dill for a minute before serving and remove. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice carrot and toss into soup. Also add the chicken pieces if desired. Other options: Add cooked noodles, rice, kasha, or matzo balls.

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