Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup for a cold:

Official scientific studies have finally shown it: chicken soup is about the best thing you can do for the common cold. So enjoy!

Raw chicken or leftover chicken?

The great question in making chicken soup. My grandmother always used a fresh chicken for chicken soup, never leftovers. I hate to throw away the leftovers when we have roast chicken, so I usually use them to make chicken soup. I've tried it both ways, and they're both good. If you use a previously roasted chicken, the soup will taste a little more complex and smokier.

Either way, I always make lots of extra soup, and then I freeze it in small tupperwares. That way, I can use the frozen chicken soup as a base for many other recipes - leek and potato soup, vegetable soup, celery-mushroom soup, gefilte fish, and so on.

How to make Chicken Soup:

Put a chicken or a chicken carcass in a large pot. Cover the chicken with water and put it on to boil over high heat. If it's a fresh chicken, be sure you remembered to get the heart and neck out of the inside first, though you can throw those into the soup too for flavor.

While the chicken cooks, chop and add one onion, three sticks of celery, and three carrots. Some people cut the carrots into rounds, but my grandma always cut her carrots into sticks, and that's how I do it too. As you get done chopping, throw the vegetables in with the chicken. Once the vegetables are all in, start making the matzoh balls.

When the carrots are soft, after about an hour, use two forks or kitchen tongs to pull the chicken out. Using a long thin knife and a large fork, slice off thin strips of meat and throw it back into the soup. If it's a fresh chicken, you should save the rest of the meat for another meal. If it's roasted leftovers, you'll need to hunt a bit to get the last scraps of chicken off the bones. Throw away the bones. Once the chicken's back in, let it heat for a minute, and then serve. Put two or three matzoh balls in a bowl, and ladle the soup on top of them. Or, if you don't make matzoh balls, serve the soup with crackers or bread.

Vegetarian or Vegan?

If you want to make a vegan soup instead, make the soup the same way except instead of the chicken, put in a cup of Japanese miso. When I make the vegan version (and sometimes even with the chicken), I like to add some spinach at the very end, too.

Will it keep?

Chicken soup will be good reheated the next day, but after that you should freeze it in small containers to keep for stock. You can thaw it on the counter, in the fridge, or quickly in the microwave. But if you thaw it in the microwave, run hot water over the bottom so you can take it out of the tupperware and put it in a regular bowl; I don't like to microwave in plastic.