Cooking and Baking

The Great Soup-Off

Nessa Moussadji October 18, 2023

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If you’re looking for a recipe for chicken soup, you won’t have to look far. Open any Jewish cookbook, ask any friend, and chances are they’ll have a chicken soup recipe to share. After all, it’s Jewish penicillin. Not having access to a good chicken soup recipe could be life-threatening!

There’s one thing that each of these recipes have in common- everyone is convinced that theirs is the best. But could that really be true? Honestly, most of them are pretty much the same with an extra carrot here, garlic added into that one, and a little less salt there. Although everyone claims that their recipe is the best, you only want to serve the true winner to your family. They deserve nothing less.

The only way to discover which chicken soup recipe is worth your time is to test them all. But to save you some time, I did it for you (you’re welcome). I picked 10 different chicken soup recipes from Kosher.com and made each of them so that you can feel at ease knowing that the soup that you’re serving this Shabbat can’t be beat. So without further ado, here are my findings, based on multiple opinions, in order of recommendation:

1. Yeminite Chicken Soup – 3/10

The entire experience of making this recipe was very original. I tried to follow the recipe exactly, but seven to eight minutes is way too long to sauté the onions. They burned, and adding the spices before the water didn’t help either because they burned when they hit the bottom of the pot. As a result, the whole soup had a burnt taste. After the soup was cooked, I realized that the Hawaij spice used contains cinnamon which I later discovered that I’m allergic to, so that may have contributed to the rating. When my friend taste tested the soup she gave it a 6. I’m sure it would taste better if cooked by someone with more experience. It still smelled excellent though!

2. Golden Chicken Soup – 4/10

Personally, I prefer my soup with a little more salt. I used an 8-quart pot, even though the recipe recommended a 10-quart one, but I still think it would have greatly benefited from more salt at the start. The color is great though, so I’m glad that it lives up to its name.

3. Good Old-Fashioned Chicken Soup – 4/10

This small quantity of soup produced by this recipe was super convenient for me as someone who lives alone. I like that it uses minimal ingredients, as it allowed me to use up what I had leftover in the fridge. The main issue with this soup is that it required a whole tablespoon of salt for only 2 quarts of water. Originally, it was fine, but eventually the salt became overpowering. I’d recommend trying this recipe, but only use half of the salt, and I’m sure it will taste incredible! Better to add more later than have it too salty.

4. Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup – 5/10

I loved making this soup in a crockpot. It made it super easy to put together and have for a Shabbat lunch. Unlike the other recipes, this one relied heavily on noodle soup mix and artificial chicken broth to add flavor. Since I prefer more natural ingredients, it was not one of my favorites. However, if you happen to like the Manischewitz cello soups, this is definitely for you! It was also interesting to use chicken cutlets instead of dark meat. An upside of this was that there were no chicken bones to deal with when the soup was finished cooking. However, I personally prefer dark meat as cutlets taste drier to me, and they’re more expensive, but that is always something you can substitute.

5. Traditional Chicken Soup – 6/10

The Traditional Chicken Soup is a very classic tasting chicken soup recipe. You can taste the sweetness that comes from the sweet potato, but the salt balances it out nicely so it’s not overpowering. The savory taste of chicken soup is delicious and reminds me of a Friday night at my Bubby’s. I used 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Even though it ended up being too little, it was better to add more later. I made sure to use all of the optional ingredients that were recommended. I’ve never used turkey necks or celery root in a soup before, but I think they helped make this recipe unique and contribute to a great-tasting soup!

6. Chicken Soup with “Kneidelach” and “Noodles” – 7/10

This chicken soup was very good. It was interesting to use a turkey drumstick in the recipe, but nevertheless it helped to add some great flavour! You can also really taste the ginger when eating it, so if you like ginger, I’d highly recommend this recipe!

7. Chicken Soup in a Pan – 8/10

Making chicken soup in a pan was super cool and original! I’d recommend it if you lack stovetop space but have room in the oven. The sweet nature of this soup made it one of my favorites. The onion and chicken helped bring out the other flavors of the soup. The soup was a beautiful golden color too, which I loved. My only problem was the size of the pan. I only had a small one available and only a quart and a half of water fit in. It didn’t even cover all the ingredients as directed. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this soup quite a lot. The process was not something you see every day, and its originality made it a favorite.

8. Sephardi Saffron Chicken Soup – 8/10

I loved this chicken soup. I think it was one of the most flavorful ones on the list. The ingredients used were also quite original, including rutabaga, bay leaves, cilantro, and obviously saffron. The bouillon cubes did not create an artificial flavor as its contribution was balanced by the natural ingredients. I also enjoyed using chicken wings as it made it easy to serve chicken to individual people who wanted it.

9. Best Chicken Soup – 8/10

The Best Chicken Soup lives up to its name. The color is beautiful and it has a unique flavor, obtained from a variety of ingredients not commonly used in soup, such as meat flanken, a green bell pepper, leeks, corn, and a tomato. The one thing in the recipe that I didn’t add was a jalapeno pepper because my family doesn’t handle spicy too well, but the omission didn’t take away from how delicious it was! When cooking, I used 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of salt and 2 small onions.

10. Award-Winning Chicken Soup – 9/10

The Award-Winning Chicken Soup is deserving of its title. The chicken flavor is boldly present throughout the entire soup, and the blend of vegetables really complements it. My only recommendation would be to start with only 2 tablespoons of salt, and then add more as needed. It was delicious and the most perfect soup out of all 10!

Some General Soup Making Tips

– Use the mesh cooking bags for chicken bones and other ingredients. It makes getting rid of the unwanted content so much easier. Additionally, according to the OU, when you use a mesh cooking bag for dill and parsley, you only have to wash them really well before placing them in the bag instead of going through the whole checking process.

– Cut up your vegetables into small pieces before putting them in the soup. It makes the serving process a lot easier.

– If you have leftover chicken soup broth, Kosher.com has a recipe to turn the chicken soup into wonton soup. It was delicious and I would highly recommend trying it!

– When I was finished with all the soups, I mixed all of the remaining liquid together as a fun experiment and it was amazing. All the originality in each of the soups balanced each other out to make one of the best bowls of soup I’ve ever had! That one definitely got a 10/10!

Thank you so much for joining me on this soup rating journey! I hope you found a recipe that you enjoy! Please let me know what you’d like for me to taste test next.