I can’t say I have a perfect track record with the recipes I publish. In fact, here’s an excerpt from a letter to the editor published many years ago. The note, from a Rockville Centre reader, said: “Randi Kreiss’ recipe sent me to the hospital with chest pains. After spending four hours at the emergency room and $70 the next day at my family doctor, I was told I had gas from all those veggies in the soup (which did not taste so great, anyway).”
I don’t know if the old gasbag is still with us, and I’m sorry she suffered chest pains, but I don’t think her issues had to do with my soup.
My soup-making skills are considerable, and I’m in the process of compiling the recipes into a book for my kids and grandkids. My granddaughter Sabrina is particularly keen on cooking, and has already added her own culinary flourishes to my vegetarian tortilla soup. I say why mess with perfection, but she felt it needed some queso blanco.
Anyway, she’s been pressing me for my family chicken soup recipe. It is special. I know every cook in every family makes the best chicken soup, but mine is outstanding. If there were a New York State Fair entry for chicken soup, I would win. I’m not claiming that in the age of Covid-19 it has unusual medicinal properties, but you can judge for yourself. It may not be hydroxychloroquine or bleach shots, but it’s a real comfort, spiritually and physically.
Because Sabrina was so persistent, and because she also has a wicked sense of humor, I recently sent her the plans for my Manhattan Project of chicken soups.
This was never meant to be published in a newspaper; it was meant to pass from kitchen-warm grandma hands to upturned fingers. It’s a kind of promise-to-keep, whispered mother to child. But in the interest of public health, here goes:
OK, OK this is the recipe:
Find a chicken and a huge pot. Now maybe this chicken has it all together, or maybe he comes in eighths. Could be a pullet or a broiler; equal opportunity here. Could be Kosher or not. I was brought up thinking Kosher was tastier. My mother said it was because of all the salt. Invite your chicken into the pot. (Give him a good scrubbing first, using no soap. It’s soup!)
3 32-oz. cartons of any good organic chicken broth
Bunch fresh parsley (well washed)
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon
1/2 cup pearl barley (rinsed and strained)
5 stalks of celery
2 turnips, peeled, sliced and diced
2 parsnips, peeled, sliced and diced
6 carrots or a bag of cut-up carrots
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
10-oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables (no sauce or butter!)
Salt, pepper, a nearly infinitesimal amount of rosemary . . . no, that’s too much . . . such a heavy hand.
Now here’s the hard part:
Put everything into a huge pot. Cover. Turn up the heat and simmer for an hour and 10. That should soften the toughest old bird. I call it the RBG method.
The after part:
Lift the chicken out of the pot. He will not come willingly. And he may fool you by pretending to fall apart. And he may actually fall apart. Round up all his body parts and put them in a separate bowl. Choices here: You can shred the chicken into the soup and dispose of the bones, or you can eat the chicken as an entirely separate experience. Boiled chicken with something — anything — is quite yummy if you give it a chance.
You can also cut the boiled chicken into salad or stuff in a taco or toss into a smoothie. (I’m kidding.)
Find your soup blender stick and puree just the right amount of time. Depends on whether you like soupy soup, or thick puree, or recognizable pieces, or just vegetables and soup, in which case you won’t need the soup blender at all. You decide. Personally, I like a few seconds of blending, while letting the vegetables keep their identities intact.
If you call and visit me, I’ll give you my matzo ball recipe. If you call and visit me often, I’ll give you my matzo ball recipe with all the ingredients. May you enjoy this recipe, and may it nourish all the people you love.
Copyright 2020 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.