Chicken Soup With Benefits
Serves 8 (makes about 12 cups).
Note: If you started with a chicken that didn’t yield a lot of flavor, stir in a teaspoon or two of a chicken-flavored soup base, such as Better Than Bouillon. For a darker broth, see the variation below. The broth can be strained and used right away, but it tastes even better when it’s refrigerated overnight, right in the pot. The shredded chicken can be covered with broth and refrigerated for up to 3 days. The fried chicken skins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a day. From Bonnie Benwick.
• 2 tsp. olive or safflower oil, plus 1 c. for the chicken skins
• 4 small or 3 medium onions, cut into chunks
• 1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb.) whole chicken
• 12 c. water, preferably filtered
• 2 ribs celery, preferably with leaves, cut into a few large pieces, plus 3 more ribs, chopped or sliced, for serving
• 1 large carrot, cut into a few large pieces, plus a few more peeled carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for serving
• Kosher salt
• Low-sodium chicken soup base, optional (see Note)
• Cooked and rinsed flat egg noodles or Grandmother’s Soup Kugel (see recipe), for serving, optional
• Fresh dill fronds or coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
• Juice from 1 lemon (3 to 4 tbsp.)
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until some pieces have browned edges and the onions have picked up color.
Meanwhile, use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to remove the skin from the chicken. Don’t worry about the skin on the wings, which is trickier to remove; it will give the soup a little needed fat. Reserve the skin, and cut the chicken into a total of 12 or 13 pieces, including the neck (cut the breasts in half).
Shove the onions aside in the pot so you can add the chicken; the goal is to have as many pieces as possible come in contact with the bottom of the pot so they brown a little. You may add them in 2 batches; cook for about 10 minutes, turning them as needed.
Increase the heat to medium-high; pour in 12 cups water and toss in the celery and carrot, making sure the chicken is covered. Once the liquid comes to a full boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes. You don’t need to skim.
Meanwhile, heat 1 cup oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cut the skins into 1- or 2-inch pieces, stretching them as flat as you can. Carefully place 1 in the oil; if the oil bubbles around them, add half the remaining pieces of skin and fry for about 8 minutes, turning them until they are crisp and evenly golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season lightly with salt.
At this point, taste the broth. If it’s not chicken-y enough, stir in a teaspoon or two of the chicken soup base.
Remove from the heat. Once the pot is cool, cover and transfer to the refrigerator to rest overnight.
Uncover; skim and discard the congealed fat on the surface (or reserve for another use). Transfer the chicken pieces with meat to a bowl. Discard the vegetables, chicken back and neck pieces. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth- or flour-sack-cloth-lined fine-mesh strainer, discarding any solids. You should have about 10 cups.
Pour the broth into a wide pot; add the chopped or sliced celery and carrots. Warm through over medium heat.
Meanwhile, shred the chicken, placing some of it (to taste) in the broth, along with the noodles or slices of soup kugel, if using, the dill fronds and lemon juice. Taste, and season with salt, as needed.
Once the chicken has warmed through and the vegetables are barely tender, ladle into individual bowls. Garnish with the fried chicken skins.
Variation: For a darker broth, cut the onions in half instead of into chunks. Sear in the oil, cut sides down, until charred, before adding the remaining ingredients.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 90 Fat 3 g Sodium 200 mg Carbohydrates 4 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 3 g
Protein 12 g Cholesterol 30 mg Dietary fiber 0 g
Grandmother’s Soup Kugel
Serves 12 to 16 (makes one 9-inch round kugel).
Note: Freezing chicken noodle soup often means the pasta reheats to a mushy state; here, a simple baked noodle pudding solves that issue in a rather elegant Old World way. It’s best to bake this in a clear, deep-dish, 9-inch Pyrex pie plate; that way, you can tell whether it’s cooked through on the bottom. The kugel can be cooled, cut into slices and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost and let come to room temperature before using. From Shira Levin.
• 1 (12-oz.) pkg. dried fine egg noodles
• 1 tbsp. kosher salt
• 1 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
• 3 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Add the noodles and cook according to the package directions (al dente); they take just a few minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to the pie plate, then add the salt, sugar, pepper and eggs, stirring quickly to incorporate. Sprinkle the top with more pepper, if desired.
Bake on the middle rack for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and crisp, and the bottom looks set. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting into slices.
To serve, place 1 slice in each bowl of hot chicken soup.
Nutrition information per each of 16 servings:
Calories 100 Fat 2 g Sodium 230 mg Carbohydrates 16 g Saturated fat 0 g Total sugars 2 g
Protein 4 g Cholesterol 60 mg Dietary fiber 0 g