It’s currently that mid-winter season when the cold and flu seem to have everyone I know down in the dumps. As a Jewish mama, I’ve been bread since birth with a doctrine to treat all medical ailments in my household with a centuries-old remedy that we like to call “Jewish Penicillin”, but more commonly, it is know as… Chicken Soup. That’s right, when done properly (ie. from scratch… no stocks, no powders, no shortcuts), this concoction is jam-packed full of healing vitamins, nutrients, minerals, anti-oxidants, and just plain old comfort-food goodness. I’ve modified my Bubbie’s recipe to suit the picky eaters in my home… but it goes something like this:
-First you need a generous sized pot. The biggest pot you own.
-The equivalent of one whole chicken, skin removed. I like to use drumsticks (6) and thighs (6). The dark meat adds rich flavour, and the bones provide lots of needed health benefits, like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. The more bones, the better (just don’t eat them… duh).
-1 whole sweet onion (peeled but not sliced. Leave it whole).
-2 or 3 big carrots peeled and sliced.
-1 small turnip, peeled and sliced.
-1 butternut squash, cubed.
-3 celery sticks, cut into thirds.
-2 garlic cloves, peeled.
-1.5 teaspoon of salt (don’t overdo it… you can always add more later if need be).
-A pinch of ground black pepper
-1/4 cup chopped fresh curly parsley
-1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
-Put everything into your pot, and then fill it up with water. Make sure you leave enough space so it doesn’t overflow (at least 3 inches from the top).
-Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat to a simmer.
-Give it a couple hours, covered, stirring occasionally.
Optional: In the meantime, you can make some noodles in a separate pot. Egg noodles taste the best. But don’t put them into the soup pot, as they will literally soak up all of your broth. Add them to each bowl individually when it’s time to serve. Traditionally, this soup would be served with Matzoh Balls, but thanks to their grandma, my kids have gotten hooked on Jamaican-style dumplings. This is a simple dough made from a cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and a bit of water, rolled into balls, and plopped right into the soup pot.
While you are waiting, you will notice the infectiously delicious smell starting to spread. Be patient. The longer you wait, the more yummy it gets. When the squash has completely dissolved into the broth, and the chicken is falling off the bone, it’s time to taste… Enjoy!!!