According to daysoftheyear.com, January is National Soup Month. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this makes sense — for those of us in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, January can be a bitterly cold month and a warm bowl of soup can warm you from the inside out.
Now, I personally don’t believe you need to have a month out of the year set aside to enjoy soup. I’m an advocate of cooking soup throughout the year — there are so many different types of soups you can make that trying to cram them all into one month is impossible. Not only that, but different growing seasons mean that some ingredients just aren’t available in January and you need to take advantage in the spring or summer of what’s readily available.
But just because I don’t like to limit soups to one month, it doesn’t mean I can’t get behind supporting and encouraging Soup Month. I think everybody should make soup all the time. Meat soups, dairy soups, parve soups, hot soups and cold soups. Broths, chunky soups, chowders, pureed soups, thin soups and thick soups. There are so many options.
This weekend I made a big pot of chicken soup. I admit, it’s the soup I make more than any other. First, I like to have some in the freezer to use in other recipes or just to pull out when I need a bowl of Jewish Penicillin. But it’s more than that. I have a strong connection to chicken soup. It’s in my bones. With a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove top I’m transported to my grandmother’s kitchen. The aromas coming from my pot of soup are the exact aromas that greeted me at the door every Friday night when I arrived at her house for our weekly Shabbat dinner.
It’s been many years since my grandmother was around to make a pot of chicken soup, but the memories have grown to include my own mother’s pot of simmering soup and the vats and vats of chicken soup we make at work. And having moved into a new home myself in the last year, one of the first things I did was make a huge pot of chicken soup (and meat kreplach), creating the same memory in my own kitchen that I have from my grandmother and mother’s kitchens.
I have recipes for Chicken Soup in both my cookbooks, and they’re great for learning how to make it, but once you’ve been making it for years, you can do it by sight, smell and taste.
No Quantities Chicken Soup Recipe (check cookbooks for quantities)
- place lots and lots of chicken bones, wings and necks into a large pot, filling your pot 2/3s with chicken parts
- cover with cold water, and place the pot over high heat
- bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum that rises to the top
- as soon as it’s simmering, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, continuing to skim the top until there is no more scum
- add yellow onions (peeled, but left whole), carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks), parsnips (peeled and cut into large chunks), celery (cut into large chunks) and simmer, skimming until all of the scum is removed
- simmer another hour
- add fresh dill, and simmer another 30 minutes
- if it’s too watery, simmer longer, letting the liquid reduce, if it’s rich enough, season with salt to taste
- use tongs to remove any large pieces of vegetable and chicken and discard (we’re not using chicken with much meat on the bones, just bones, necks and wings, so there isn’t much worth keeping)
- use a ladle to pour the broth through cheesecloth into clean bowls or pots
- to chill the soup quickly, the night before I make chicken soup, I fill a few small freezer bags 2/3s with water, expel any extra air, close and freeze – once the soup has been strained, carefully place the frozen bags of ice in the broth and leave for 5-10 minutes – the soup should be cool and ready for the fridge (remove the bags before refrigerating)
- leave the soup in the fridge for a couple of hours, then carefully remove any fat from the top of the soup with a spoon
- reheat when ready to eat or freeze for later use
To purchase the 2nd edition of Soup a Kosher Collection (with new recipes), follow these links:
In the USA: amazon.com
In Canada: amazon.ca
I love the idea of national soup month! Although I think it should start in November and end in March, with the amount of cold weather we’re having…
I agree! Though, again, any time is good for soup. 😉
I use a similar method to make my chicken soup as well as my hainanese chicken rice. Since this is for Phở, I add aromatics like charred onion, garlic and ginger, but I go easy on the seasonings as chicken is easily overwhelmed by spices such as star anise and cloves. The charring not only develops new flavor compounds, but it also adds a wonderful smokiness to the soup that gives it depth.