My mother never liked to cook and neither did I, but I loved to hang out in the kitchen watching my grandmother grab a pinch of this and a dash of that, although usually when it came to garlic and bay leaves, it was way more than a pinch! You could smell her cooking all the way up the elevator to the apartment. When she died, we would never have the ethnic foods I had grown up with and loved. Stuffed cabbages, chicken fricassee with those teeny, tiny meatballs, chicken soup, golden and glistening. Nope, all gone. My mother couldn't cook to save herself from starvation. But she did dial up a great meal from the takeout places! And that seemed to be the direction I was headed in when I got married. Any home cooked meal we had back then was hand delivered by Grandma and put in the freezer for when we needed it. Between that and dialing for takeout, I never had the need to make anything myself.
If it hadn't been for the internet, I never have found out how much I love to cook. I had wanted my children to know the foods I had growing up. When I called the local deli here, they had stuffed cabbages, they cost a fortune and were just ok. So I set out to figure out how my grandma did that! and I did. and along the way I figured out how to cook a lot of things. and met a lot of nice, imaginary people along the way! Not really imaginary, they are only an email away!
and through all the cooking forums and cooking email chit chats, and now blogging, I became a decent cook. My kids even request things, I still set off smoke alarms and still forget things and make a huge mess, some stuff even the puppies won't try, but we now eat home cooked more than ordering in sometimes. This chicken soup was one of my first tries, and now I think I have it pretty close to Grandma's.
When I make wings, I always save the tips in the freezer for when I make soup. All those extra little bones and skin make a nice, thick, gelatinous broth. The kind that looks like jello when it's cold from the refrigerator. That's perfect. My friend, Renee, would say it's "liquid gold" and she's right!
Fresh dill, parsley, leeks, carrots, turnips, parsnips, celery, onions and peppercorns! There's a lot of flavor going on in this pot...
My liquid gold...
from the Grandma of There's Always Thyme to Cook
2 kosher chicken pullets (or whatever type chicken you use for soup! Also great if you can get some chicken necks from the butcher, and some wings to throw in as well)
8-10 carrots -- sliced thin, lengthwise or in rounds
2 leeks -- white part only
1 large onion, cut in quarters
kosher salt and pepper -- to taste (I use peppercorns, about 10 or so)
3 celery ribs
bunch of fresh Italian parsley
bunch of fresh dill
water to cover
Peel and wash the vegetables. Rinse and clean the chickens. Put the chickens in a stock pot with the vegetables, and add enough cold water to cover it all. Bring to a boil. Skim the foam off the top. Lower the heat to medium. Keep it on medium for about 30 - 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Not too much salt, you can always add more later. Simmer soup for three hours or more on low heat. Check the seasoning. The longer it simmers, the better the flavor.
Remove the chicken and vegetables from the soup. Keep the carrots and chicken meat. Discard the other vegetables. Pour the soup through a fine mesh strainer. Put the carrots and chicken in a separate container. Skim the fat when it cools. To serve, heat the soup with the carrots and chicken and add egg noodles or matzo balls.
This makes a very big pot of soup, and it freezes well.
and what do you do with the mushy boiled chicken left over from the soup? At our house, a little always went into the soup along with some very thin egg noodles, and some of the carrots, the rest we'd have on a Kaiser roll with grilled onions and ketchup. But now with that panini grill, we can get ambitious. This time we had Chicken, Onion and Cheddar with Spicy Tomato Aioli on brick oven bread from the bakery, grilled on that panini grill. Leftover mushy boiled chicken never tasted so good!