Introduction: Jewish Penicillin | a Guide to Chicken Soup
Growing up we had two doctors. The first was my mother, who was a pediatrician. The second was the aptly named wonderful brew given to cure any ailment. My dad joked my whole childhood that this chicken soup was our Jewish penicillin and the name stuck. To this day if I've got anything from the flu to dance fever, all medicine is paired with simple to make and delicious elixir.
Besides being good for you, this recipe happens to keep your wallet healthy as well. The ingredients are cheap as they stand, and can be replaced with the skins and leftovers from other recipes to make sure nothing goes to waste.
So come along as I share a bit of my childhood and what will hopefully let me be the man who lives to be 150.
Step 1: Parts List
The road to healing and satisfaction start with the following:
- 1 Chicken Carcass (feet required, head is optional)
- 1/2 of an Onion
- 5 Whole Mushrooms (if you think the feet are too woody, feel free to remove them)
- 4 inches (10 cm) of a carrot (you can chop this as you like, I prefer an even six pieces)
- 1 Large Potato (same as the carrot)
- 1 head of Garlic (peeled and whole)
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 7-10 black peppercorns (I can't find these anywhere here, so used ground pepper instead)
- A good knife for chopping
- A cutting board for the aforementioned chopping
- A 4 quart pot
- Large bowl
- Strainer (large enough to fit over the bowl - see picture)
This will make enough soup for four bowls to thoroughly be enjoyed
Step 2: Not All Boiling Is Created Equal
Since this is technically a broth really the only thing you need to do is boil everything. But be warned, don't take boiling lightly! Having things on high heat will only make it more work for you to skim things off the top and refill the pot with water that's evaporated. Instead try this:
- Bring the broth to a boil with the lid on
- Remove the lid and drop the heat down to low
- Skim any brown off the top of the broth
- Return the lid and wait a minute
- Check to ensure the broth is at a simmer, no big bubbles
- Every 40 minutes check and skim.
The total time from when the pot hits the stove to a finished product'll be exactly 4 hours.
Step 3: Strain and Gain
After your timer goes off and you pull your pot off the stove, it's time to strain. Make sure you prepared the strainer and bowl (and that the bowl is large enough to fit all of the broth) to simplify the process. From there it's as simple as maintaining an even stream and trying not to splash too much when our solids hit the strainer.
It's tradition at this point to throw away the onion as it's thought to have drawn any toxins or other nasties out of the broth. Keep it if you like, but be sure to take the skin off as the long simmer has done little to improve it's texture.
With our broth separated into liquids and solids it's time for some more recycling. If you chose to make your soup attractive with evenly diced potatoes,carrots, and mushrooms you can keep them and skip any straining. Personally, I like to use the solids for dumplings (an upcoming instructable) so I just take off the potato skins and mash everything (including the chicken meat that can be stripped off the carcass) together and then mix with the mushrooms that have been diced.
And so Viola, we have a nice portion of chicken soup waiting to be eaten. But you may have noticed that at no point in this instructable have I really mentioned seasoning. That's because as a rule I don't season until I'm ready to serve, and since we gone this far let's spice things up a little bit.
Step 4: Let's Serve It Up
Here's how I like to eat my soup on cold days:
- Return half of the soup to the pot
- Add in a duck thigh and drumstick
- Simmer for 1 1/2 hours
- Add two heaping spoonfuls of the mashed mixture (which I like to warm up with a little butter) right before serving
This makes enough for two bowls so that you can share ^_^
Step 5: Enjoy!
And with a sprinkling of chives we have a meal. But that's not the end of the story. Chicken soup is an excellent at adapting to all sorts of flavors and uses. Before long car trips I like to add a whole bunch of ginger to the mix to help with car sickness. If I've got a cold I like to throw in a couple cloves of fresh chopped garlic (an old Russian remedy). The possibilities are potentially endless.
As for storage options, chicken soup made this way will last a week in the fridge but no more. If you want to use in other recipes and keep it for a while I recommend freezing it, where it'll keep for a long while.
If you liked this instructable please show me your souper creations, add a comment, or vote for me in the Home Remedies Contest here on instructables. Thanks for reading!