Yesterday I felt better just long enough to run out to the grocery store and pick up the ingredients for homemade chicken soup.
Luckily, years of helping Aunt Pat prepare Thanksgiving feasts reminded me to look inside the chicken and pull out the bag of giblets. I only squirmed once, and that was when I noticed a single feather remaining on one of the chickens and had to pull it out. (Dad told me later that he used to pluck freshly killed chickens for his mother, which made me exceedingly grateful for my dead-fowl-free childhood.)
I love how a few simple ingredients (plus heat and water) combine to make something so delicious. It’s fun to watch the meat and vegetables simmer for hours, although I usually have to remind myself at the end that it will taste good, since the stock definitely looks unappetizing at that point!
After straining the entire pot through a colander and then a sieve, I was left with a ginormous bowl of glimmering chicken stock. At this point, I had to run off to a meeting, leaving a note for Gabe so he wouldn’t eat the stock.
When I got home three hours later, it was soup-making time! At this point it was 7:30 P.M. and Gabe had eaten supper already, but I was stubborn. I had worked all day for this. I wanted soup. And I wanted matzo balls.
At 8:45 P.M., I sat down to a hot, blissful bowl of chicken soup with matzo balls and the realization that I had started this cooking venture almost 10 hours before. Talk about delayed gratification.
Today I’m back on the couch with a box of tissues and a paper to write. But I have chicken soup in the fridge and leftover stock and matzo balls in the freezer. 100% worth it.
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
- 3 (5 lbs. each) roasting chickens
- 3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
- 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
- 4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
- 20 sprigs fresh parsley
- 15 sprigs fresh thyme
- 20 sprigs fresh dill
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
- 2 Tbs. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup good chicken stock
- 1/4 cup rendered chicken fat, melted
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for egg whites
- 1 cup matzo meal
To make soup: Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a 16- to 20-quart stockpot. Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove two of the chickens and allow to cool slightly. Remove the breast meat from both chickens and set aside. Return the remaining chicken and carcasses to the pot and continue simmering, uncovered, for 3 more hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and chill. Remove the surface fat, then reheat the stock as follows, or pack in containers and freeze.
To make matzo balls: Whisk together the egg yolks, chicken stock, chicken fat, parsley, and salt. Sir in the matzo meal. In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff. Whisk them into the matzo mixture until it is smooth. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick. Form balls the size of golf balls and drop them into simmering chicken stock, cooking for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked and puffed (turning once). Remove and serve hot in chicken soup.
To serve the soup: Return the stock to the pot and reheat, adding 4 cups diced carrots, 4 cups diced celery, 1/4 cup minced fresh dill, and 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley. Shred the reserved chicken breast meat into large pieces and add to the stock. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to cook the vegetables and reheat the chicken. Season to taste and serve as is, or ladle each serving over 2 warm Matzo Balls.
Source: Barefoot Contessa