Monday, April 4, 2011

Got Chicken Soup?


Oy Vey!  Much to my extreme dismay, I wasn't lucky enough to escape the scourge of hubby's recent bout with bronchitis. I'm about a week into this and I'm slowly getting a tiny bit better each day, but it's been quite difficult to get the kind of rest that it really requires to get well. My 12 year old diabetic cat has been quite ill this past week and has been in and out of the hospital. He's home right now, but it's hard to say if he's going to recover from this. I'm just heartbroken. He's my little buddy. My shadow. A total Mama's boy. I just keep praying that he's not in any pain and if he's not going to get better, that we'll know sooner rather than later. As much as I don't want to even think about it, the thought of what may be ahead is just tearing me up inside. I've been down this road before with more than a couple of my furry babies and I believe that it is one of the most difficult things a person who deeply loves their "not quite human kids" can experience. Logically, I know that the cycle of life is inevitable, but frankly, at times like this it just sucks!



So, for the time being I have my Mucinex, my Ibuprofen, my tissue box(es) and about a case of Vitamin Water to help keep me hydrated. All I think I need need now is some good old fashioned Jewish Penicillin. (Chicken Soup) I wonder if the Carnegie Deli delivers? They have the world's best Matzo Ball Soup and I desperately wish I could blink like Jeanie or wiggle my nose like Samantha Stevens and have a great big steaming bowl of it appear on my kitchen counter. The broth is rich and chicken-y (if that's even a word?) and the matzo balls are fluffy and flavorful and as big as your fist!





The really sad part about it, is that I have a fantastic recipe and all of the ingredients to make my own. I just don't feel well enough to make it! That being said, (and not that I would ever wish this on any of you) I figured that I'd post the recipe, so that all of you can make and freeze it ahead of time..... just in case.

Matzo Ball Soup

About 6 Servings

Chicken Broth or Stock

  • 1 5-6 Lb Chicken, either whole or cut into quarters (for "Stock" you would roast the Chicken first)
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, cut into quarters (unpeeled for darker broth/stock)
  • 2 Large Carrots, washed and cut into thirds
  • 2 Large Celery Stalks, washed and cut into thirds
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, peeled and slightly smashed with the side of a knife
  • 1 Small Bunch each of Fresh Italian Parsley, Fresh Thyme, 1 Bay Leaf, Celery Tops (leaves), tied together with kitchen string or tied in a bundle with cheesecloth
  • 1 Tbls (heaping) Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
  • Cold Water to cover (about 12 cups)

Place the chicken and the rest of the ingredients in large stock pot. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, skimming foam/fat from the top and adding a bit more water as needed. The chicken should be very tender and pretty much falling off the bones. Allow it to cool just a bit for about 15 to 20 minutes and then remove the chicken to a plate to cool further. Pick out and discard the vegetables and herbs and strain the broth through a colander lined with cheesecloth into another slightly smaller pot. Remove the meat from the chicken and set aside to add to the soup. (any excess meat is great for chicken salad or can be frozen for later use in soups, salads or casseroles)

Note** You can certainly use 3 or 4 quarts of prepared store bought chicken broth/stock and a purchased rotisserie chicken, if you don't have the time or the desire to make your own.

I like to add the cooked shredded chicken meat and the same basic vegetables and herbs to my soup, but if you prefer a simple broth as the base for your matzo ball soup, you can omit any or all of them.

Matzo Balls
  • 2 Cups Matzo Meal
  • 2 Cups of Water or Chicken Broth
  • 2 Tbls Schmaltz or Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs, separated
  • 3 Tbls Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Fresh Black Pepper

Note** Schmaltz is rendered Chicken Fat that you can often find in the International sections of some larger grocery stores or at Jewish Delis and specialty stores. Vegetable oil or cooled melted butter can be used in it's place.

In a large bowl, mix Matzo Meal, Schmaltz/Oil, Egg Yolks, Parsley and Seasonings together until well combined. (mixture will be goopy/lumpy and thick) Slowly add Water or Broth, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a thick paste/dough.

In a separate bowl, whisk or beat the whites until they form medium stiff peaks. Add about 1/3 of the beaten whites to the matzo meal dough, stirring briskly to lighten up the mixture slightly. Slowly add the remaining 2/3 of the whites, folding gently with a spatula in a figure 8 pattern until both mixtures are fully combined, trying not to deflate the mixture too much. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Bring the strained broth/stock to a boil over medium high to high heat. It's at this point where you can decide if you want to add some newly cut up vegetables, herbs or chicken meat to your soup. Just bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender before doing the next step.

Cooking the Matzo Balls:  You can take spoonfuls of the chilled mixture and roll them into whatever size you prefer, or you can just drop them free-form by rounded spoonfuls directly into the broth. They can be small, medium or large, depending on personal tastes. I like to use about 2 heaping tablespoons per Matzo Ball.

Simmer the matzo balls, uncovered, for about 25 or 30 minutes until they are cooked through. You can check them by inserting a wooden skewer (like testing a cake) or remove one to a plate and cut it in half with a knife. They should be firm and the centers should not be "wet" or doughy. You can freeze any leftover soup or matzo balls, but I would suggest that you freeze them separately. I take the matzo balls and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and put them in the freezer until they are frozen solid. I then place them in zip top freezer bags in quantities of 2 or 4 and  ladle the soup into containers that will serve 1 or 2 people. When I want to serve the soup later, I just put whatever amount of soup I need and a couple of matzo balls per person in a saucepan right from the freezer, and cook them over medium heat until everything is piping hot and ready to eat.



It seems there will always be an ongoing debate about whether or not Chicken Soup has any true medicinal benefits; especially in regard to the common cold. There are a few studies that claim that it works and just as many that refute those claims. Do I personally have any scientific proof that chicken soup can cure what ails you?  Nope.  Is it warm and rich and comforting when you're just not feeling well?  It sure is for me.

Sooo..... All I have to do now is figure out a way to convince the Carnegie Deli to deliver a couple hundred miles away! I suppose I could throw in a slice of their incredible New York Style Cheesecake to make it worth their while.  Do you think $20 is a big enough tip?

18 comments:

  1. Awww feel better soon Mrs B!!! And sorry to hear about your cat ox

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  2. Sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. The common cold is the worst. Much better to get an infection of some kind so that you can get some antibiotics to knock it out. Colds can linger forever!!! And comfort foods are the best when you feel just plain sucky. Well, I hope you feel better soon and you furry friend, too.

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  3. That sounds so yummy. I still have my crud, too. It's been almost two weeks! I may go to the doctor this week if I don't feel better in a few days. This is just ridiculous!

    Thanks for the recipe. I hope your cat has a peaceful recovery.

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  4. I am so sorry you have not been feeling up to par. I wish I lived closer because I make a mean chicken soup (minus the matzo balls) and would love to bring you a big pot of Comfort.
    It breaks my heart to hear about your fur baby..he looks like my Cecil. I hope he feels better soon . I know you are so worried and I will add him to my prayers.

    Feel better my friend,
    Shawn

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  5. Your soup recipe looks fantastic, and I am going to try it when husband's back on his vacation. Sorry you're feeling so poorly, and I know it's really hard taking care of yourself and your sweet cat when you both are ill. My Jesse was my buddy, and I miss him so much. I hope your cat does get well. Take care.

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  6. Sorry you've not been well. The hubby and I are also laid up with a bout of flu at the moment. and I wouldn't mind someone popping down here and making some of your chicken soup!

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  7. Kelly: Thanks, sweetie. I'm still not feeling my best but if the duration of hubby's crap is any indication, it could be at least another week or more. UGH!

    Robin: I know what you mean about something bacterial vs. the common cold, but I'm really kinda torn. Hubs saw our NP, had a chest x-ray and she diagnosed bronchitis and prescribed an antibiotic. It didn't seem to make any difference though. He was still hacking 3 weeks in. I'm thinking I'm probably better off just riding it out for now. We'll see....

    Sue: Isn't this the worst? Crud is definitely the perfect word for it too. I know you're trying to start your training for your marathon this summer and this has to be slowing you down. I really hope you can kick this soon.

    Shawn: Oh my dear, you have no idea how much I wish you lived closer too! Not only would I enjoy your company, but I would be absolutely thrilled to get a big pot of your chicken soup! (the matzo balls are by no means a deal breaker - LOL) Thank you for keeping Monkey in your prayers.

    CW: Thank you so much for your kind thoughts about Monkey. I'm sure the sense of loss you feel is still very close to the surface and that you're really missing your sweet blue-eyed Jesse. I have no idea how long I have left with my boy, but I cherish every second. Hope you and hubby enjoy it if you get a chance to make the soup. It can be comforting in many ways.

    Cate: I'm so sorry that you and hubs are both ill. I'm wishing that I'd had the foresight to have made a big batch of the soup and popped it in the freezer before this. If I had it, I'd surely be more than happy to ship some out to you! LOL Hope you're both feeling better soon my friend.

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  8. Yumm!!This Looks Fabulous! I will have to try it!! Yum!!! Thank You for Sharing!
    Hugs
    From the Gypsies
    Jill & Lemay
    We are Followers!!

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  9. I love that TT pic! LMAO

    Sorry to hear that you and your cat are not feeling up to snuff ... Jewish Penicillin really does work :-)

    ~Val

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  10. I am missing most of your posts my friend. Most likely because I am following you with my As I dream it blog and I have been spending more time on It's an Average Life. So I am going to sign up with my Average girl one so that i can follow you more properly. Hope you are doing okay my friend!

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  11. PS I often miss your comments on my old blog and seeing your smiling face!

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  12. Head over to my blog and see what I have been up to..thanks to your cake recipe!!!!

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  13. Oh Mrs. B! I sure hope you are feeling better soon! When I had it I was coughing and snotty for weeks! Hope your sweet buddy is feeling better too. It's so hard when you don't want them to be in pain but you know you'll miss them so.

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  14. @ Mrs. B

    Again, I can not thank you enough. I am truly looking forward to planning my next creation. I have always wanted to bake, but like I have said before I've had too many mishaps to count. Your instructions were so easy to follow and the pictures so helpful, that I could not fail. This time, after studying the picture of the syrup, i cooked it longer for a thicker consistency, which made a huge difference.
    Thanks again my friend,
    Shawn

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  15. Jill & Lemay: Welcome! I'm thrilled to have you here! I so enjoy spending time perusing your lovely blogs! Hope you both get the chance to stop by often!

    Val: I know.... I sure wish I had one of those to put on my head right about now! The last day or two my nose has just about run off my face! At least the weather is getting warmer! That sure helps!

    AG: I've missed you too! I must have gotten my wires crossed because I just realized recently that the AG blog was still up and running. I can be so oblivious sometimes that it's downright scary! I've left some comments here and there at As I Dream It, but I'll be sure to be stopping by at each of your blogs soon. I promise!

    Sweet Bee: Thank you so much... I've had the same things happening with my cold/bronchitis/whatever this is?! Coughing, runny nose, the works! I'm on my third week. UGH! I do have some good news about my little buddy that I'll be sharing later today or tomorrow, so please stay tuned.

    Shawn: I'm so very pleased that it worked out for you! I just knew that it would! If you're willing, I'll keep posting new things for you to try. Do you think that your hubby will mind being your full-time taste tester? ;~)

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  16. I'm late to read this and glad you are feeling better! And Monkey too!

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  17. I made my first batch of chicken soup a few weeks ago. I'll NEVER buy store-bought again. This recipe looks even better - gonna make some this week!

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    Replies
    1. I need to make a batch of this myself, Nan! It's been far too long since I've done it and it's "that time of year" again, too. I've had a hard time the last year or so finding schmaltz for my matzo balls, but one of my local grocery stores just started stocking it. Yay! If you do make the stock/broth, I'd love to know how it turns out! Hugs, M

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