The Fresser

Please send chicken soup

When the going gets tough, the tough need chicken soup.

July 04, 2017 14:47

If you've visited before, you'll know that about ten days ago, I fell.

For the few steps I missed, the damage and inconvenience has been disproportionately high. I missed Gefiltefest and have spent the last ten days recovering and striking various . I’m still not there, but the kindness of friends has been invaluable.

School mums have rallied. One handed flowers for me to my mother at the school gates. The scent made me smile.

Another sent trays of roast chicken and roasted veggies via my husband. It made several meals with a few greens on the side.

A third  delivered challah on Friday when I could not get out to buy my own.

Countless more have helped ferry my children to and from school. I cannot say how much their kindness has meant.

My mother and stepfather have looked after the children, ferried them about and stood in for me at Sports Day — the first I’d not managed to get to. (Sniff.)

Thank you all — you have held my life together this last ten days. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to be seriously unwell. It makes me count my blessings.

The one gap in my life this week has been Jewish penicillin. I’m sure the bone-warming, hug in a bowl qualities of our signature soup would have pepped me up. Sadly, I’ve not been up to making any. By chance, my recipe video is up on the JC website this week. Feel free to try my recipe and send me some. (Joking.)

Claiming to have the best chicken soup recipe is bound to attract heckles. Everyone has their own favourite recipe for the golden nectar.

It might be their mother or grandmother’s recipe, or perhaps it was the first cookery book or newspaper recipe they followed. Here in the UK, I’d warrant a huge number of Shabbat tables boast steaming bowls of soup cooked to one of the recipes laid down by my predecessor, that Grand Dame of heimishe — Evelyn Rose.

Essentially the recipe is a simple one. Akin to a stock — designed to get the best out of simple ingredients. There won’t be much variation — perhaps recipes won’t vary much, give or take a parsnip or leek to add flavour, or a clove or two of garlic. Or maybe a different type of bird — boiling fowl or stripped down carcass. Modern Jewish chefs may vary the veg — fennel adds a fresh, almost aniseed tasting layer; parsnip brings sweetness as do carrots or ripe tomatoes, which also add colour. Another trick to deepen the hue is to leave the onions unskinned.

My recipe — which some may decree too faffy — comes from years of tweaking. In the early days, I couldn’t get the fullest flavour from my fowl. It often needed pepping up with chicken stock powder; but that feels like cheating. So I set about working on getting the most from my bird. I always chuck in a carcass or two, but I’m not a fan of boiling fowl. The meat’s tough. It seems a waste to buy chicken just to throw it away.

So I go for the best chicken and vegetables I can. Organic if possible. I cook the chicken until the meat is tender and then strip it off the bird but throw those bones back in to the pot for a further hour or more, to eke out every drop of goodness. The meat is still tender and juicy, and good to then serve in the soup, or if it’s too much, to use in salad, pasta dishes or pies.

Find my recipe here. 



July 04, 2017 14:47

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