Chicken Soup is Good for the Soul

CHICKEN SOUP (p.43)

My Husband and Son are sick with the flu so I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to make good old chicken soup. I don’t feel so much like a newbie here because I’ve made chicken soup before but I was sure Martha’s version is different and I was excited to try it out (plus it’s the next recipe in the soup section so I really had no choice). My Grandmother, Olivera Farkash, taught me how to make her soup years ago in Israel, but I was never quite able to make it as good as hers was. I always had to add powdered chicken stock / boullion and still there was something missing, I now realize that I must have forgotten a step or two – like seasoning and simmering maybe. This is how it went:

To begin with, I needed to use a whole chicken and cut it up into 8 pieces (p. 110). It may seem like a simple thing but to me it was very intimidating and kind of freaky. I get a bit squeamish from touching dead uncooked things so I wasn’t sure how this would go but I was up for the challenge. It was SO easy! I searched YouTube for a video on cutting a chicken, just to make sure I had a visual reference but ended up using the instructions in the book since they were so detailed and clear (good job Martha). First I cut the leg and thigh from the body and then separated them into 2 pieces. Then I cut the wings and finally had to slice the breasts off. I wasn’t quite sure if I was cutting along the ribcage or not but I just followed my instinct and at the end they came out looking like chicken breasts so I was happy. Did I mention that things were falling out of the cavity as I was cutting? Yuck! There was a neck, liver and a heart – YES a heart! It was tiny and looked like a human heart … eww … I couldn’t touch it with my hand, I felt like a murderer (ok, not that bad but you get the idea). So, that was interesting but I sucked it up and moved forward. In the end, I was so pleased that I was able to cut a whole chicken all by myself. I know it’s really not that big of a deal but it was to me, made me feel like a regular Martha Stewart. I put the remaining chicken parts (heart included) in the freezer to use at a later time for making stock.

Once that was done I was ready to make the soup. I placed the chicken, vegetables (carrot, celery, parsnip, onion) and herbs into a stock pot and covered them with water. I had to frequently skim the top to get rid of the impurities from the chicken (foam-like substance) and it seemed like I was doing that for a long time. It just kept coming back and I couldn’t get control of it. Some internet research has taught me that the impurities are basically a coagulated protein that rises to the top of the soup and causes broths to be murky or cloudy if not removed. There is some disagreement about whether the impurities make the broth bitter or not, so I say – when in doubt, leave it out. When the chicken was cooked through (approximately 10-15 minutes) I took it out and took the meat off the bones. The bones went back into the pot while the chicken was put in the fridge for the time being. The stock then had to be simmered for another hour. After that, I strained it through a sieve and added it along with fresh vegetables to a clean pot. Once the vegetables were tender I added the chicken meat and warmed it up one more time. Voila! The chicken soup was ready.

The soup came out delicious and was very hearty. The flavors of the broth were so complex for something so simple. I love the parsnip flavor (almost like a mix between a carrot and celery) and the chicken was tender but not overdone. My Husband loved it too and said that while he always enjoyed my soup this is a superior version of it (thank you Martha). I know I will make this again many times. The simmering and skimming is a bit time consuming but it’s not too bad and the end result is worth the effort, plus I think next time will be easier because I’ve already done it once and know the basic method. The only flaw in the recipe (and I’m noticing a pattern here) is that the portion was very small. Martha says it should serve 6-8 people but honestly, I can’t imagine it serving more than 4 people at the most and that’s if they each got one tiny little bowl. After I strained the broth I had to add 2 cups of water to the pot just to get to the 6 cups that was supposed to be there – I only had 3.5 cups. I didn’t want to add too much water though, because I didn’t want to water down the flavor of the broth. So next time, I will double the recipe but add the same amount of chicken as in this recipe. I think that would work best, since there was plenty of chicken meat and vegetables but not enough liquid.

Mommy Tip: A great soup for children, it’s simple enough for their young palettes yet so tasty and nutritious. You can make large batches and freeze in gallon bags (or plastic containers) for later use. Also, to add variety you can substitute peas and beans at the end.

Up Next: Chocolate Chip Cookies, with my 3 year-old daughter’s help.

 

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The Chicken

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My cut up chicken, I’m very proud!

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THE HEART

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It was as delicious as it looks