Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jewish Penicillin

I've had it.  Affliction after minor affliction has visited this house this fall: headcolds, sore throats, eye and ear infections, and now a bout of the flu for the husband and an unfortunate weaning-related malady for me.  I am determined to enter this holiday season with a healthy and rested household and to this end, this weekend I brought out the big guns in the form of Sweet Mama Jane's Double Chicken Soup, aka Jewish Penicillin.  This soup is labor intensive, and definitely a full weekend project, but its healing powers for maladies physical, mental and spiritual are unparalleled.  The best thing to do is make a massive batch when you are well, and keep plenty frozen to be thawed on the spot when you're feeling rotten and not in the mood to cook.  With my lovely sister-in-law in town this weekend, we were doing not much besides lazing about with the baby and relaxing together, so it was the perfect time to push through some Double Chicken Soup production.  Here's hoping it zaps the plague in this house and ushers in happy, healthy holidays.

2 whole organic chickens
5 large carrots
2 onions
1 apple
1 leek
1 cup orzo pasta
Salt & Pepper
1) Start by making a basic chicken stock.   In a large stock pot, place either one whole chicken, or the carcass of a chicken.  Meaning: you could roast one of the chickens that this recipe calls for for your Friday night dinner and then start this soup with the carcass on Saturday morning, which is what I did this weekend; or else, for a very decadent soup, you could start your broth with a whole chicken.  Either way is fine, just be sure to remove the giblets and rinse the chicken if you are starting with a whole one. 
2) Add 3 of the carrots, the onions and the apple (you could also use any other mild tasting veggies you have on hand that are at the end of their life, celery in particular works well, but also sweet potatoes, just nothing too acidic).  Fill the whole pot with water, and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer, and let cook uncovered for several hours, at least 3 and up to 6, until the liquid reduces by half.  Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
3) Strain the stock.  You'll need a colander or chinoise, and another large soup pot or several heat-resistant bowls.  Pour the contents of the pot over the colander, and let the broth strain out.  If you used a whole chicken, remove the meat from the colander, and shred by hand, and set aside in a covered container.  Discard the carcass and cooked vegetables (or, if you have a dog, and are feeling like scoring Depression-era-housewife bonus points, feed him/her the cooked carrots and make a friend for life).  Wash the stock pot and return the broth to the pot, and the pot to the stovetop.
4) Here comes the magic secret: now you start the whole broth process again with a fresh chicken.  This is what yields the richest, deepest golden, most amazingly healing broth of the Double Chicken Soup.  Remove the giblets from and rinse the 2nd chicken, and add it to the stockpot.  Bring the pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Allow to cook, uncovered, again for between 3 and 6 hours, depending on how much time you have and how quickly the stock reduces.  
5) This brings you to Saturday night if you are making this a weekend project.  You'll want to strain the broth again now.  Reserve the cooked chicken meat and shred it by hand, adding to the covered container (which is obvs being refrigerated).  Cover the soup pot and refrigerate over night.  The cold will cause the fat to separate to the top by morning.
6) The next morning, skim the fat from the top of the broth with a wide spoon.

Gross!!!  Hardened fat be gone!

7) Thinly slice the leeks.  In a large soup pot or Dutch Oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat, and add the leeks, allowing them to caramelize, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes. 
8) Peel and slice the other 2 carrots and add them to the leeks.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
9) Boil a pot of water and cook the orzo to al dente.  You want to cook the pasta separately from the soup, rather than in the broth, because it emits gluten in the cooking process that would make the soup glue-y.  Better to leave all that gluten in the pasta cooking water!  Drain the pasta and set aside.
10) Add the skimmed chicken broth and shredded chicken to the leeks and carrots.  Bring to a simmer and simmer until carrots are tender.  Add the pasta.   Add salt and pepper to taste.  This recipe makes a generous pot of soup.  There should be plenty to serve to your patients, and then freeze the remainder.

Germs be gone!  Seriously.

1 comment:

  1. in a few days we will all have a turkey carcass or two on our hands- it'll be double turkey soup instead!

    turkey soup plus turkey, cranberry and cream cheese sandwiches make the left-overs more fun than the feast.

    thanks for this heirloom recipe jane...

    love! hale