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For generations, this soup has been making people feel better

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By David Kelly
Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Sometimes called “Jewish penicillin,” this soup is simple to make and can easily be chicken noodle or chicken with Matzo balls (dumplings) with just a few more steps.

Here is the recipe for both, so you can make either.

Your family will enjoy both varieties.

Chicken Noodle or Matzo Ball Soup

(makes 10 servings)

2 whole chickens

2 whole onions, peeled

4 stalks celery, rinsed

4 carrots peeled

4 parsnips, peeled

flat leaf (Italian) parsley, stems and all, rinsed

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the soup

2 cups finely diced carrots

2 cups finely diced celery

1 recipe Matzo Balls (recipe follows) or, one pound egg noodles

1 bunch fresh dill, chopped for garnish

In a large pot just big enough to hold the chickens (about 10-12 quarts will do), put in the chickens, onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and parsley. Use a tall, narrow pot rather than a wide one and fill with just enough water to barely cover the chickens. Bring to a boil and skim any scum that rises to the surface.

Turn down the heat so that the broth simmers.

Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Simmer the broth uncovered, for at least two to three hours.

Taste the broth and you will know if it is ready. Does it taste like chicken? If not, let it cook longer, even up to another hour or two. You want it to have a deep, chicken flavor.

Once the soup is finished, set it aside until cool enough to handle.

Strain the broth into a clean 6- to 8-quart pot. You can discard the strained out parsnip, carrots celery or onion.

Add the finely diced carrots and celery to the pot with the strained broth.

Cook the vegetables, uncovered, in the broth at a simmer just until tender.

While the vegetables are simmering, pick off the chicken meat, trying to leave the pieces as large as possible. Discard the bones and the skin. Set the chicken meat aside.

Make matzo balls or cook the egg noodles according to the package directions.

When the noodles are cooked through, strain them through a colander. “Shock” the noodles to stop the cooking. Do this by rinsing them with cold running water, drain and set aside.

Add 2 cups of the cooked noodles or the matzo balls to the serving bowls. Ladle hot broth, chicken and vegetables into the bowls, sprinkle with chopped dill and serve.

If you want to make the Matzo Ball option, follow these easy steps to transform the entire dish.

Matzo Balls

(makes 1 dozen)

1/4cup chicken fat, melted but not hot (you can use the fat that rises to the top of the soup as it cools)

7 eggs beaten

7 tablespoons broth from the stockpot

7 tablespoons soda water

1/2pound matzo meal (you will find this in the kosher section of the supermarket

1/2tablespoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the chicken fat and eggs. Add the chicken soup broth, soda water, matzo meal and salt. Mix just enough to combine. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot (8-10 quart) of salted water to a boil. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator.

Use a small ice cream scoop, take a scoop of the mixture from the bowl. With wet hands, shape each scoop into a ball and carefully drop them in the boiling water.

When all the balls have been shaped and formed and are in the water, lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

If serving the matzo balls immediately, place one or two in each soup bowl, then ladle hot soup over top and serve garnished with chopped fresh dill.

If you are making the matzo balls ahead of time, remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool a bit. Lift the balls out of the water using a slotted spoon and place in a storage container.

Add just enough cooled cooking liquid to cover the matzo balls.

To serve, lift the matzo balls out of their cooking liquid and place them in the pot with the chicken soup.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes, or until the matzo balls are heated through. Serve as outlined above.

As always, enjoy!

David Kelly has been a chef for more than 40 years and has been bringing recipes and cooking tips to the public in culinary corner for 21 years.

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