Jewish Penicillin – Bubbie’s Chicken Soup

Everyone loves my chicken soup and I’ve been asked many times for my recipe so I’ve decided to share it with all of you.  Important facts about chicken soup:

  • The bigger the pot the more chicken you need to use.
  • This soup freezes perfectly and can easily be defrosted in the microwave (if necessary).
  • Best to freeze in plastic containers because the soup expands as it freezes and glass jars often crack.
  • Don’t put noodles or matzah balls into the soup when freezing – add afterwards.  The starch turns the soup cloudy.  Freeze balls separately.
  • You can put any vegetables you want in the soup but remember they will get soggy and fall apart – carrots and celery are best and should be added in the last 20-30 mins.
  • You must season this soup when its cooking because you cannot add enough salt at the table to give it a full bodied and flavourful taste.
  • Fat can be skimmed off the top of the soup when it is defrosted or even after it sits in the fridge overnight – the fat rises to the top and can always be removed.
  • The boiled chicken from the soup can be cut off (taken off the bone) and frozen in a ziploc bag.  You can pull out as much chicken as you want and add to soup when reheating.  The boiled chicken is also delicious in salads.

Ingredients: Use a big tall pot to make the soup in – the bigger the pot the more you have to freeze for that cold winter night. 1 Nice plump chicken cut in 8ths.  For added flavour and body add 2-3 additional chicken legs or 2 turkey legs/wings. 2 Onions Tops of bunch of celery, including the leaves chopped in big pieces – 3-4 inches each (will be strained out) 4-5 Parsnips cleaned and chopped into big pieces (will be strained out) Bag of small carrots already peeled and cleaned Rest of bunch of celery chopped into 2 inch pieces Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Dillweed and Thyme to taste.  As soup cooks keep tasting and add salt as needed. Streits Soup Base (mix a tablespoon with hot water to dissolve) – this gives your  soup that nice yellow colour (not the same as chicken stock). Instructions: Put all chicken into pot and cover with water – I fill the pot to within 2-3 inches of top.  Put on high and bring to a full rolling boil.  After boiled lower heat and skim fat off the top as much as possible. You must have enough chicken to give all the water flavour.  In other words if you’re using a big pot like I do use a whole chicken cut in 8ths and a couple of additional chicken legs or wings – whatever you have.  The more chicken the more flavour – you cannot just use chicken bones! Keep chicken on medium simmer and add Onions, Tops of celery including leaves, Parsnips, all seasonings and chicken soup base (powder mixed with hot water). Most important in the soup that it has enough salt.  Add about 2-3 tablespoons to begin with for huge pot and then when soup is near finish taste and add additional salt to taste. Cook at medium simmer for about an hour or until chicken is tender and cooked.  Check seasoning and add additional salt to taste. Add carrots and celery pieces (2-3”) and cook until tender – about 20-30 mins.  Don’t overcook or these vegetables will fall apart – you want them to be medium firm. When soup is done remove chicken pieces and take whatever chicken you want to eat from the bones.   If you are freezing soup freeze chicken pieces in Ziploc plastic bags so you can use them with soup as you unfreeze it. Strain soup to remove celery (leaves and big pieces), onions, parsnips and all chicken bones (if any).  You can freeze the clear soup in plastic containers – better not to use glass bottles as the soup expands when it freezes and often causes the bottles to crack.  I freeze in those Ziploc containers with screw on lids that are taller – each one serves 2-3 people and is perfect for a cold winter night or when someone is sick.

Kailey enjoying a bowl of soup

Perfect to eat with your soup: Matzah Balls  – mixes are the easiest way to go and you can freeze the balls.  Special trick I use:  put cooled balls on a cookie sheet and put the sheet into the freezer.  Once balls have hardened (at least partially frozen) put them into a Ziploc bag.  This way you can defrost a few balls at a time – they come apart easily when frozen. Fine egg noodles – only takes a few minutes to cook these up.  They keep well in the fridge in a plastic container for several days.  Hint:  Don’t put noodles into the soup and then put in fridge – starch in the noodles turns soup cloudy.

Dylan can eat 6 matzah balls with his soup

Chicken soup is a staple that can quickly be defrosted and makes for a perfect dinner on a cold winter night.  Serve with noodles or nice crusty bread that can be dipped.   Chicken soup has medicinal properties and is great when you’re sick!   Good luck – make a pot today!  Your kids will thank you.

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