I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Matzah Ball Soup Season!

I'm re-posting this, which is MY VERY OWN recipe for Chicken Soup. I came up with it, I perfected it, and it's MINE. And I'm about to say something horrible: My mother doesn't make soup as good as I do. I know, I know, Kein ahora! But seriously, this kicks my mom's soup recipe in the balls.

But it's the season for reflecting and repenting. And because you've been good this year, I'll re-share it with you. Especially because Jew and Goy alike enjoy a good bowl of soup.

In addition, this recipe has been awarded RT's Good Housekeeping Stamp of Approval, so if a Southern Mother with five hungry men in the house is willing to go through the effort to feed her troops... it's good enough for you.

No pictures this time, but chicken soup isn't a particularly lovely food anyway. Its homeliness is redeemed, however, by its taste and mouth-feel.

And I know Sigh likes to get all uppity about how you have to use every pot, bowl, plate, cup and spoon in the kitchen to make this soup, but... Sigh can be sort of a jerk sometimes, which is why whenever I see her, I rugby-tackle her to the ground... And then she kicks my ass.

But seriously - no one ever said all good food was easy or fast. And there are certain things you just can't rush. Like chicken soup. Or Brisket. Or Challah.

Without further ado here you go. I recommend that you start this on Thursday afternoon or evening right when you get home from work, so you can serve it as an appetizer before Kol Nidre on Friday night. Here's the original post:

So, last night I began making my Chicken Soup, which I finally finished, about 24 hours after I started it. Behold, my finished product! I take chicken soup VERY seriously. And here's how it's done, Jewish style:


Soup (All of these amounts can be raised or lowered to taste, except for the chicken)

1 chicken, cut up into parts, about 4.5-5 lbs - NOT the kidneys or liver. Throw that shit out. You can also throw out the neck - good for soup, but sort of gross to think about. I pitch the neck.
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered, root cut off
1 head of celery, rinsed, cut the stalks in half so they're about 3 inches long; if the celery comes with leaves, leave 'em on!
5 or so large carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut in half
One Bunch of curley Parsley, rinsed, and de-rubberbanded
5 cloves of garlic peeled
About half a teaspoon of whole black pepper cloves
Two tablespoons of non-flavored vegetable oil

Matzah balls:
One packet Matzah ball mix (why bother making it yourself? They're going to taste the same whether they're out of the Streit's packet or the Manischewitz packet, or you stand around measuring matzah meal...)
Two eggs
Two tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Cover the bottom of a tall stock pot with the vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high. Place the chicken in the pot in two batches, skin side down, and cover the pot to hold in the smoke. Brown the chicken on the skin side, then turn over, and brown the chicken on the other side; about five minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to hold the chicken while you brown the second batch. In the second batch, throw in the quartered onions - I do the breasts and thighs first and then the drumsticks, wings, etc. in the second batch. Cover. The second batch will be very poppy and sizzly, and will smell like roast chicken and onions. Fucking amazing.

While the chicken is browning, get the rest of your ingredients together, on a plate in a heap, and in another large pot, start heating up probably three quarts of water. Don't let the water boil, but get it hot.

Once the chicken is browned, add all the chicken back into the pot, as well as any juices on the plate on which you reserved the chicken.

Toss in the rest of the ingredients and pour the heated water over everything until the water comes about two to three inches above the stuff in the pot. DO NOT ADD SALT.

Submerge a clean salad plate, right side up in the pot, to keep all the ingredients under water.

Raise the burner to high. In the meantime, get a small mug or bowl handy, along with a tablespoon. As soon as the water hits a rolling boil, lower the heat immediately to two ticks above the lowest setting, DO NOT LET THE WATER COME TO A BOIL AGAIN.

Start the arduous process of skimming all the foam off the top, while trying not to scoop off all the schmaltz (chicken fat) that accumulates on the surface. Scoop the foam off, and drain the schmaltz off back into the pot, against the side of the pot. Dump the foam and scum into the cup you have handy. Remember, the fat on the top of the soup is going to hold a LOT of the flavor in the soup. Don't let the soup boil, or else you'll whip the scum into it and make it cloudy. It won't affect the flavor much, but it won't look as pretty.

Keep the water at just barely a simmer - that means that you should see a couple bubbles coming to the surface from under the plate, every few seconds, but steadily. Periodically, skim off the foam from the top of the water, about once every fifteen minutes. It'll decrease as time goes on, and after a while, but there will be balubetchkes (cracklins') on top of the schmaltz, which you can either take off or leave in. They look ugly, but they taste like roast chicken, so whatever you want to do.

You're going to simmer the soup for at least six-ish hours, on VERY LOW HEAT. Just liiiightly bubbling. If you can keep it really low, you'll break down all the collagen in the chicken soup, and it'll gel when it's cold. That's a good thing, it'll make the soup have a great mouth texture. If you start the soup at around 9:30 p.m., make sure the soup is just slightly simmering before you go to bed - loosely cover the pot.

Get up at 3:50 a.m. to skim off the scum, turn off the heat and cover the soup.

Leave the soup on the stove all day, and go to work. I'm serious. I've never had a pot of chicken soup that hasn't sat on the stove at least 24 hours.

When you get back, get a LAARGE bowl and a big colander, and put the colander in the big bowl. With a tempura dipper, skim out the chicken carcass, reserving the breasts on a separate plate, and reserving about seven carrot sticks from the mess on the breast plate. Everything else toss in the colander in little batches. Lift the colander from the bowl, and with the Tempura dipper, press hard on all the celery and carrots and onions and chicken and garlic, so that they release their liquid into the bowl. I'd say about three batches. Once you've pressed a batch, dump the colander into the garbage, and return the soup in the bowl, into the pot.

When it gets hard to scoop more stuff out of the soup, set the colander in the biiiiig bowl, and dump the entire pot of soup into the colander, lift the colander, and press the soup out from the remaining boiled mess.

Toss the last of the stuff in the trash, but make sure you didn't throw out your seven carrots and your chickentits.

SCRUB OUT THE POT, leaving the soup in the biiiiiig bowl.

When the pot is clean again, shred the chicken off the breasts into the pot, picking through it to make sure no bones end up in the soup.

Toss the bones.

Slice the carrots into little discs, and dump them into the shredded chicken in the pot.

Return the chicken broth to the pot, pouring it over the shredded chicken and carrots. Everything should be room temperature... that's okay. You can boil the stuff now.

Turn the heat to high, until you start seeing convection in the pot. As soon as it hits a light boil, turn down the heat and simmer it, covered, while you make your balls.

Make the matzah balls according to the package directions. Beat two eggs really well with two tablespoons of vegetable oil. If you don't beat them well, you'll see those nasty egg strings in the balls. Whip 'em good so you don't. Mix in the matzah ball mix packet with a fork, and set it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

While the matzah balls are cooling, add a tablespoon and a half of salt, MAX. Grind in some pepper. You can salt your own soup when it's in the bowl, but it's risky to salt the whole thing.

Keep the soup at a low simmer for 15. When the matzah balls are ready to be formed, get a bowl and fill it half full of water.

Wet your fingers, and pick up about a teaspoon full of matzah ball mix, and roll in your wet hands. Drop the balls into the simmering soup as you form them. You should get about 12...maybe more.

Cover the soup, and simmer/steam the balls for 20 minutes.

When you're done, ladle everything into your bowl, getting some chicken, some balls and some carrots. Add salt to taste and pepper and Voila!

Jewish Penicillin, and the most comforting food I can think of! SO GOOD.

And with that, I wish you L'Shanah Tovah Tikateinu and an easy fast.


Anonymous Lauren said...

Your recipe reminds me of my mom. I think i'll carry on the tradition for her from here on out. Thank you. :)

7:48 AM

Blogger SuperBee said...

Ohh. Now I'm sad.

Come over and I'll make it with you. :)

11:13 AM

Blogger Rootietoot said...

Attention to anyone who reads and considers this soup.

Thou Shalt Cook It 24 Hours.

You also might want to consider making sure you go to bed with a very full stomach, as the soup will likely awaken you at 3 am and make you crazy. I speak from experience.

4:52 AM


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