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Grandma’s Chicken Soup


We all know that everyone thinks their grandma makes the best chicken soup, so it won’t surprise you to know that my grandma Linda makes THE BEST chicken soup, and if you disagree, you’re wrong! That said, one thing we can all agree on is that the most important ingredient in any chicken soup recipe is love. And mine is full of it. My grandma makes this for the High Holidays and at Passover. This two-day recipe has all the classic flavors: chicken, carrots, celery root, parsnip, and fresh herbs.   Of course, the star of the show is the matzo balls. Matzo balls fall into two categories—dense and fluffy—and people are usually loyal to one. It is a tradition in my family, passed down from my paternal great-grandfather to my father, to make dense matzo balls, and here in this book, I’m ready to take on all the dense matzo ball haters that I haven’t converted already: my matzo balls have a texture that is chewy but still tender, and they don’t disintegrate into the broth, so you can get a bit of each ingredient in every spoonful.


Make the Soup

1. Pierce the chicken pieces all over with a fork. (This will allow the broth to penetrate the meat.) Set aside. Repeat with the carrots, garlic, onion, parsnip, turnip, and celery root, piercing them all over to allow the broth to penetrate the vegetables.
2. In a large stockpot, place the vegetables, then the herbs on top, followed by the chicken bones, and finally the chicken pieces. Add salt and enough cold water to cover everything by one inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, undisturbed, for one hour. Remove from the heat, add the paprika and pepper to taste, give the pot a gentle stir, and let it cool for 45 minutes.
3. Using tongs, remove the chicken, vegetables, and herbs from the pot and set them aside to cool. Strain the chicken stock through a colander into a large resealable container (or divide it between two containers) to remove any large solids, but keep the smaller bits in the stock. Discard the large solids.
4. Place the stock in the refrigerator to chill overnight. When the chicken has cooled enough to handle it, remove and discard the chicken skin and bones, then shred the meat into medium pieces. Package the chicken, vegetables, and herbs separately in three different containers and refrigerate them as well.
5. The next day, pour half of the stock (or as much as you want to use) back into a large stockpot and begin to reheat it over medium-low heat. Return the rest of the stock to the refrigerator.

Make the Matzo Balls

1. While the soup is reheating, bring a large saucepot of water to a boil. While you wait for the water to boil, combine all the matzo ball ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Measure out one-fourth cup of the mixture and roll it into a ball using your hands; set aside. Repeat until you have formed as many matzo balls as you want to cook (usually two or three per person; see Tip), then add the matzo balls to the pot and boil until cooked through, about 15 minutes. (To see if the matzo balls are done, remove a ball from the pot and cut it in half to check that the insides are cooked.) Remove the cooked matzo balls with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
2. Five minutes before serving, add half of the chicken and vegetables (or as much as you want to serve) and a few sprigs of cooked herbs to the chicken stock, just to warm them through. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.
3. Using a slotted spoon, evenly distribute the chicken, vegetables, and herbs among five or six serving bowls. Place two or three matzo balls in each bowl, pour stock over, and serve immediately.

Tips: This recipe makes up to 12 servings, but you don’t have to eat it all at once! My grandmother usually serves this recipe to our family over two holiday meals, but you can divide it however you like. (Once cooked, the stock, chicken, vegetables, and herbs will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. The uncooked matzo ball mix will keep in the refrigerator for a day.)


Recipe excerpted from Eitan Eats the World, Courtesy of Eitan Productions and Penguin Random House/Clarkson Potter.