If you have ever made fresh chicken stock, you will know that there is no comparison to the store bought variety. Fresh chicken stock makes an incredible base for the ultimate chicken soup, and the magic of this broth lies in the fresh herbs and vegetables, that along with the chicken is simmered slowly to perfection.
This is the soup that is affectionately known as Jewish penicillin. This is what a Jewish grandmother believes would help relieve your cold and flu symptoms. She also believes that this would be good for your upset stomach. A soup made with this much love is proof that there is a therapeutic effect in enjoying a bowl of hot and steamy chicken soup.
If you are not familiar with matzo, it is a flat bread which is part of the Jewish culture. This bread is traditionally eaten at Passover when people of the Jewish faith do not eat leavened breads. However, this bread is used in many recipes throughout the year.
There are three keys to making matzo balls that are not equivalent to hockey pucks. First, is to whip the egg whites. Second use as little matzo meal as possible. The third and final key is using a small amount of rendered chicken fat from preparing the chicken broth.
If you choose to not make the matzo balls the chicken broth is rich and is ideal to serve as is, or with noodles.
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
Makes 6-quarts stock, serves 10, plus extra for the freezer
Recipe from Ina Garten
Recipe for Chicken Soup
3 5-pound roasting chickens
3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half (optional)
20 sprigs fresh parsley
15 sprigs fresh thyme
20 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 cups 1/4-inch-diced carrots
4 cups 1/4-inch diced celery
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Matzo Balls (recipe follows)
Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a 16-20 quart stockpot (note: I used 2-8-quart stockpots). Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 1-hour. Remove 2 of the chickens and allow to cool slightly. Remove the breast meat from both chickens and set aside. Return the remaining chicken and carcasses to the pot and continue simmering, uncovered, for 3 more hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and chill. Remove the surface fat, then reheat the stock as follows, or pack in containers and freeze.
To serve the soup, return the stock to the pot and reheat, adding the diced carrots, celery, dill and parsley. Shred the reserved chicken breast meat into large pieces and add to the stock. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to cook the vegetables and reheat the chicken. Season to taste and serve as is, or ladle each serving over 2 warm Matzo Balls.
Recipe for Matzo Balls
4 extra-large eggs separated
1/2 cup good chicken stock
1/4 cup rendered chicken fat, melted
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for egg whites
1 cup matzo meal
Whisk together the egg yolks, chicken stock, chicken fat, parsley and salt. Stir in matzo meal. In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff. Whisk them into the matzo mixture until it is smooth. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick.
Form balls the size of golf balls by shaping them with 2 spoons, rolling them with your hands, or scooping them with a small ice cream scoop. Drop them into the simmering chicken stock and cook for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked and puffed, turning once. Remove and serve hot in chicken soup.