I wasn't sure I was ready for the change of seasons. I love summer. I can never have enough tomatoes from the garden. Any variety. I know you probably don't beleive me, but its true. There are never enough for me. But the change of season happened so quickly and so drastically, I had no choice but to jump right in!
Wed, Sept 23, at 1:40 pm I got into my car, and I immediately noticed the difference in the light. I can't say it hadn't happened before that. I only know I hadnt noticed it until that moment. it looked later. I got out of my car very close to 2pm, and the light looked like a summer afternoon at 4pm. I was positive, and confused. It was clear that the seasons had changed. And somehow I had missed the subtle shift.
Everyone in my house had already started with the sniffles and one child was already complaining she was sick. School had just started. This can not be happening. It's too soon! What do you do at that moment in time?? I dont know what you do, but my fall back is chicken soup. You're sick? Let me get out the pot!! It's 45 degrees at night? SOUP TIME!! Even if it doesn't heal you, nothing makes you feel better in the moment like a big bowl of hot homemade chicken soup. The smell of the house alone is enough to lull a sick child to sleep.
Every family has their own version, I wil give you mine. It's changed over the generations, and to be honest - when I look at the recipe card that is in my mother's hand, I KNOW I'm not going to put 8-10 cups of water, I'm simply going to cover the chicken with however much water that takes. And there is NO way my soup will be ready after an hour and a half of simmering.
If you are planning to do this after work, don't plan on eating it until the next day. This is going to take hours. If you have the schedule to do it, its a good thing to do in the morning.
This is chicken soup for beginners.
Here we go.
You will need:
1 3-4 lb chicken whole, gizzards removed and reserved.
1 lb of beef flanken OR 4-8 marrow bones**
2 whole onion
2 large cloves of garlic (peeled and whacked with the bottom of a jar, or the side of a knife. Just enough to break it open a bit)
1 green pepper - halved or quartered
2 good sized parsnip - cut in bite sized pieces, but not so small that they will turn to mush while cooking
6 good sized carrots - cut the same as the parsnip
3 stalks of celery - large ones from the outside, not small from the inside. Also cut in pieces not too big for human consumption.
Fresh dill - the tops of 8 stalks anywhere from 4- 6 inches long.
LOTS of kosher salt
Place the marrow bones (or beef) and the whole chicken, along with the neck and all the gizzards in a large soup pot. I would use a 10 or 12 qt pot. Fill with just enough water to cover the contents and bring to a boil.
** A note on marrow bones - You can get them in a larger bone or you can get them in sliced smaller bones. I find the smaller sliced bones easier. they take up less room. and if you're into marrow - its easier to get to. The more you use, the stronger the beef flavor. I prefer a stronger chicken flavor with a subtler beef. My father goes heavy on the beef - and many people say his soup is the best they've had. So, it's all personal preference. Experiment.
When the water is boiling, the pot will be covered with "gunk". Scoop it out with a spoon and discard. Once the top of the soup is "clean", add all your vegetables and salt. Bring the pot to a boil again.
Once the pot comes to a boil, lower the light enough to bring the soup to a simmer. Let it simmer for 3 hours. During this time, taste the soup periodically and add salt. This soup seems to take a LOT of salt. Go with it. Don't worry.
* A note on salt - I have never measured, but be aware that there is a point of over salting, so you really do need to rely on your taste buds. Keep in mind - you can always add more salt later if you need to, but if you over salt, thats a much more difficult problem to deal with. The other benefit to tasting along the way is that you can gauge the strength of the flavor of your soup. There is not a lot worse than pouring yourself a bowl of chicken essenced water.
I'm sure that you have heard people say "It always tastes better the second day". I say that a lot. I make a lot of foods that need to cure. Drives my family crazy. This is one of those things. It's great right away - but its BETTER the next day.
You may find, when you've finished making your soup, that when you try to taste it, the top is a layer if fat. Not a lot of flavor in that hot soup fat. that needs to go away.
Here are a couple of tricks...
After you have finished, let the soup cool a bit before moving it to the refrigerator. If your fridge is big enough to put the whole pot in - great. If not, transfer it to smaller containers, cover and chill.
At this point, before refrigerating, I always remove the whole chicken, onions, and beef from the soup and store them separately - but thats my personal preference. If that is something you want to do, now is the time to do it. When the soup gets cold it will gel making it harder to take these things out with out making a huge mess and you'll have to wait until its warmed again. The soup takes MUCH longer to warm up if you also have a big whole cold chicken in it. What I like to do is to take all the chicken off the bone and shred it. then add it back to the soup when I am reheating. You can do this at anytime. Some people like it as whole or large pieces. Again, its a personal preference. So - whatever you like.
The next day, or later in the day if you've done this in the morning - when you take your soup out of the fridge, it will be covered with a layer of chicken fat! With the edge of a spoon, gently scrape it off. NOW you're all set to go. Add chicken if you've taken it out and want it in the soup, and reheat.