Chicken Soup

photo taken by Virtual Eric, on January 3, 2009, CC licensing

- 3 kilos/6 lbs chicken parts
- 3 carrots, scraped and cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 onions, unpeeled
- 2 or 3 celery stalks with leaves
- 1/2 celery root (if stalks are not available), peeled
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 parsley root, scraped and cut into pieces
- 1 turnip, scraped and cut into pieces salt and pepper

We start with the chicken soup. And make sure it's early enough in the day so that you have at least 5 to 6 hours for the process. Otherwise You'll be in your kitchen long after the 11:00 o'clock news and you won't have the strength to strain the soup, let it cool and throw out the garbage...

For about 3.5 liters (around 3 quarts) of chicken soup:
3 kilos (or 6 pounds) of chicken parts of the oldest and fattest chickens the butcher can sell you. If you want to go way back to traditional methods, have him sell you some extra backs, necks, wings, stomachs. I use at least one whole chicken (cut in half) - because there are so many ways to prepare meals when the soup is finished, and remember, no meat will stay in the soup (only the carrots will accompany the matzoh balls).

Put everything into a huge, heavy pot with the chicken: 3 carrots (or more), 2 - 3 celery stalks, (1/2 a celery root if the stalks are not available); 4 onions with the ends cut off, washed but not peeled; parsley, parsley root peeled and cut into a few pieces, and a nice fat yellow turnip, peeled and cut into pieces. Add salt, pepper. Add cold water ONLY to cover. (this chicken doesn't want to swim away). Put the lid on.

Bring to a boil, turn down the heat immediately so that it simmers. Place the lid ajar so that steam can escape. Simmer for 3-4 hours -- until the meat is falling off the bones. Every once in a while, scoop your big stirring spoon all the way to the bottom of the pot to make sure no chicken parts have stuck to the pot. Taste (dipping below the fat on the top). Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Now if you're making the amounts I suggest, you may very well need your teenage son, husband or an Olympic weight lifter who lives nearby to lift the damn thing. Keep the carrot pieces for your soup, and set aside the meat you want to use for other dishes (chicken salad, minced chicken, chicken sandwiches-- you'll have plenty to work with). Strain the soup through a fine (and large) strainer.

Cool, then leave in the refrigerator overnight. Something we do in Vienna during the winter, by the way, is leave the big soup pot on the balcony.

Next day, lug the pot back out of the fridge.. Overnight, the soup will have jelled so now you want to remove that layer of fat that has formed on top. Do this carefully, thoroughly, and with a large spoon.

Approximate time for preparation:
5-6 hours

Sephardic or Askhenazi