My mother, Evelyn, "Grandma Evie" or "Grandma E" to her grandchildren, used to say that though she based her chicken soup on her mother's recipe, she made it better. She once told me that a little old Jewish lady she met in a butcher shop told her to put a sweet potato into the soup and she did that ever since. My older sister used to make this soup and my brother's wife makes a version as well. My mother was a great cook, but other than very '70's foods like green bean casserole and jello mold, really excelled at the Jewish cooking she grew up with. I don't make too many of her specialties any more because they can be very heavy, but this one I hope my children will carry on. —healthierkitchen
8 - 12
cut up chicken parts (I like to use Kosher for this as it's been salted and soaked)
sweet potato, peeled and left whole
onion, peeled and left whole
4 - 6
carrots, peeled and cut in two or three approximately equal lengths
celery, trimmed, cleaned and halved as with carrots
1 large (or 2 small)
"Jewish bouquet garni" - a large handful of parsley, stems and all, a large handful of dill, and 10 - 12 black peppercorns wrapped in muslin and tied with kitchen string.
Place chicken pieces into a large stock pot, leaving out any giblets, livers, etc. Cover with water by a couple of inches, probably about 7 quarts.
Set pot on burner on high and bring to a rolling boil. Lower burner to a slow boil. After the water has been boiling for about 5 - 10 minutes, skim off the foam and grey-brown globs that rise to the top. Keep chicken and water at this slow boil for about 30 minutes, skimming occasionally as needed, until water is mostly clear.
Add the other ingredients into the pot. Bring back to a boil and then lower to maintain the contents of the pot at a simmer. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar. Simmer for about an hour.
After an hour, taste soup and add salt and pepper. If you have the time, let it simmer another hour.
Remove the chicken pieces to a bowl and reserve for another use - Amanda's chicken salad, maybe?
Remove the parsnip and sweet potato and eat. This is the cook's prerogative. Break up the onion into smaller pieces and leave in the soup. Remove the Jewish b.g. (herbs).
For Jewish holidays, the soup is ready to serve like this with noodles or matzo balls. If you would like a fancier presentation, strain the soup of all the cooked out vegetables and put just the broth back into the pot (and don't do what I did once and just pour it through the strainer right down the sink - oy!) Once strained, you can add fresh carrots and celery to the broth and cook them for another 20 minutes or so before serving, or use as stock.