My Grandmother’s Recipes: Part 5, Soup

My grandparents’ teenage romance continues in this chapter (click for Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 6Part 7).

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Part 5 cont
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*This is not an error; I included the top of the next page in order to finish a paragraph and to leave you, Beautiful People, in suspense.  The synagogue story will continue next week.

11.  Mazel Tov – Congratulations (lit. Good Luck)

12. Yizkor – prayer in commemoration of the dead, recited on the last days of the Three Festivals and on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (lit. He shall remember…)

13. NEP (New Economic Policy) – a system of privatization introduced by Lenin in 1922 to help boost the fledgling soviet economy.

14. Oistrakh, David – world-famous violinist who was born in Odessa and who started out as a childhood prodigy. His name became synonymous with the notion of a “wunderkind.”

15. Nikeyveh – prostitute.

Whenever I hear this beautiful song, I can’t help but think about my grandparents who were just as much in love with each other 59 years later, as on the day of their wedding.

The next course coming to the holiday table is soup.

You’ve heard of a one-armed bandit, but what about a one-eyed soup? Hershele of Ostropol, a famous prankster and jester who lived about 200 years ago (I believe I’ve mentioned him before), traveled to another town and went to an inn.

“Do you have a yukh – chicken soup?” – he inquired.

“But of course, – said the offended innkeeper, – the best yukh you’ve ever tasted!”

“In that case, make me a goldene yukh, mit goldene oygn (a golden soup with golden eyes), and I’ll pay you a ruble for each eye.”

Trying to get as many golden circles of fat on the surface of the soup as possible, the innkeeper cooked his fattest chicken and proudly served the soup. The entire surface was thick with fat.

“Here is one ruble, – the wily jester offered, – this soup has only one eye – a yukh mit ein oyg!”

I grew up on stories about Hershele, but this one is among my favorites. There are several books, a play, and a couple of movies (accessible on Youtube), but I keep hearing my grandmother’s soft voice telling Hershele anecdotes in Yiddish.  And, of course, chicken soup, “the Jewish penicillin,” has always been considered a remedy for all problems, physical and emotional alike.  The great 12th century Jewish sage and physician Rambam in his book On the Cause of Symptoms recommends it “to neutralize body condition,” which includes curing leprosy and asthma. Seven hundred years later, a study conducted at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach confirmed many of Rambam’s chicken soup prescriptions (http://www.myjewishlearning.com).

Yukh 1.jpg

To make a healthy chicken soup, I quarter a whole chicken and undress it – take the skin off, other than from the wings which are my treat. Naked chicken parts hide in a crock pot cooking bag – they are bashful! – and go into the crock pot, covered with water. Here is the trick: set the crock pot on high and bring the chicken water to boil. Then pull the bag out, discard the first water, wash the chicken pieces thoroughly, and place them in a clean bag.  Fill it with water and bring it to boil again.

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While you are waiting for the second chicken water to boil, you can get your vegetables ready. I use only carrots, parsnip, celery, and onions. Peel and wash them, of course, and cut the onion crisscross half-way on the bottom, like this:

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This is not my grandmother’s whimsy; the soup does taste sweeter this way!

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Cut the rest of the veggies into bite size pieces and get large handfuls of fresh parsley and dill ready. Once the chicken water is boiling, drop all the veggies in there, season with salt and pepper, and put parsley and dill bunches on top. Turn the crock pot to low and forget about it for a few hours, or until the chicken is totally and thoroughly done and falling apart.

yukh-5

As Hershele was attending a funeral, he overheard the widow complaining bitterly about all the treatments and medications administered to the deceased.

“What medications? Give him chicken soup!” – advised Hershele.

“But he is dead – it wouldn’t help him!”

“It wouldn’t hurt either,  – said the jester, pouring himself another vodka, – a yukh is a yukh!”

As you can see, my yukh does not have a multitude of fatty “eyes” floating on the surface. It has only one eye, and that one is healthy, for a good a healthy New Year! Shana Tova! A Zis Yor!

A great kudos to wonderful Esme of https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com/ who runs and coordinates the recipe exchange program and who has been unfailingly posting every holiday recipe I throw her way in order to get it in before the holiday – thank you, dear Esme! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 whole chicken quartered and skinned
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • A large handful of fresh parsley
  • A large handful of fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Place chicken pieces in crock pot bag inside crock pot, fill bag with water. Set crock pot on high.
  • Bring to boil, discard water, wash chicken pieces thoroughly. Place in a clean bag inside crock pot, fill with water, bring to boil.
  • Peel onion, cut crisscross half way on the bottom. Cut the rest of vegetables into bite size pieces. Add to chicken.
  • Season with salt and pepper, place parsley and dill on top. Cover,reduce setting to low. Cook for 4 – 5 hours until done.

Chicken soup without kneidlach (matzoh balls) is like Batman without Robin, Superman without a cape, Harry Potter without Ron and Hermaine – I think I’ll stop right here and go on with the recipe. I’ve heard from so many people that they have never managed to make fluffy matzoh balls, and  – eureka! – I finally figured out the reason. It’s air! My grandmother’s kneidlach were so light and fluffy, they could fly. Well, if you want to fly, you need air, right?

matzo-ball-ingredients

Get the basic ingredients: matzoh ball mix (that’s just matzoh meal* that comes in smaller and more expensive boxes), eggs, and oil. None of that seltzer or baking soda and vinegar shtick that our ancestors never heard about! Whisk eggs and oil together really well. The more you aerate it, the easier your kneidlach will fly. That’s the first secret.

matzoh-ball-batter

Keep whisking while you gradually introduce the matzoh meal, i.e. mix. Make sure you blend it well, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Pour some vegetable oil into a saucer and dip your palm into it. That’s how you prevent the stubborn sticky mess from refusing to shape up. Form balls the size of walnuts. They should puff up to about twice their size as they are cooking.

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The second secret is cooking them in broth rather than water, regardless of what it says on the box. Don’t just dump them in your chicken soup, though; leave the soup pure. Just take some of it into a separate pot, bring it to boil, and gently drop your matzoh balls into it. When they pop to the surface, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

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And that’s how you serve your chicken soup with the lightest, fluffiest, scrumptious kneidlach ever!  Shana Tova! A Zis Yor!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup matzoh meal or matzo ball mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil

*Matzoh meal is matzoh gound up into flour

PROCEDURE

  • Whisk eggs with oil until foamy.
  • Gradually introduce matzoh meal while whisking.
  • Blend thoroughly, cover, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Oil palms, form walnut size balls.
  • Bring 1 quart chicken broth to boil, gently drop balls into it. When balls come to surface, reduce to simmering. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

44 Comments Add yours

  1. Still enjoyable, Dolly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Derrick.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. BERNADETTE says:

    Washing it twice makes it clear? Wish you a blessed Rosh Hashana.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You got it, dear Bernadette. Thank you so very much, and many blessings to you and yours!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Doug Thomas says:

    The miraculous qualities of chicken soup…maybe it CAN raise the dead. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL Yeah, we can try…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. purpleslob says:

    Hi my precious feline person, Dolly! Why do you take off all the skin, when you want golden eyes of fat?? And why do you have to pour off the first water?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I take off the skin because of cholesterol, and the skin on wings proves to be enough for golden eyes. Pouring off the first water makes it clear, as you can see on the photo.
      I wish I could offer you a plate, my favorite purple person, so you could taste it for yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. purpleslob says:

        I wish you could do!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Meanwhile, I send you blessings for health, happiness, and everything sweet, dear purple person!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 15andmeowing says:

    Thank you for the recipe. It looks great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, darling!

      Like

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear Edward.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. edwardky2 says:

    Make some and come visit me. Please. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With pleasure, dear friend! Alternatively, you are always welcome to come visit me. 😻

      Liked by 1 person

  7. CarolCooks2 says:

    Thank you for the memory Dolly this is exactly like my mothers and grandmothers soup with white gravy as I used to call it…I can relate to the eyes although that’s not what I used to call them I can see the connection. Love it! Hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Carol! Hugs right back to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. How i do enjoy reading your grandparent’s love story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Mimi! I hope you and your family are safe and sound!

      Like

      1. Thank you, we now have power back here where we live. My parents in NOLA will not leave, and they are limping along on an old generator, so i will be going down there frequently this week. Their house is undamaged, so when they get power back, they will be all right.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am glad to hear that! Sending blessings your way, darling.

        Like

  9. The story, video and chicken soup are so complimentary!⭐️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, darling.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Marlapaige says:

    My grandmother never showed me her recipe. It was a state secret. But I remembered the smells and colors. I got the urge to make chicken soup 20 years after she died and went to the store. I got every vegetable that matched the colors and I sniffed every herb to find the right smells. Came home and had no idea what to do with any of it so I made it up as I went and making sure the colors were all equal. As I made it I was able to smell every stage of it and I knew what to add and when based on getting the smell in the air right. It’s not exactly hers, but it’s very close. Mine is different because of my insane need to have the colors all be equal which means way more chicken than she ever used and a supremely large pot because that’s what my mother used. I have made converts out of even the most stubborn because there is so much in the way of ingredients that the broth is left for those who really want it. Everyone walks away happy.

    The one thing I could never figure out was the matzah balls. She never showed anyone (another state secret), and we have all tried everything and failed. They’re always dense and dry. I cannot wait to try your recipe! When I have the urge to spend 8 hours making soup I am going to try to make the matzah balls right and make you proud!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I applaud your culinary experiment!
      Good luck with your matzah balls.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Marlapaige says:

        Every once in a while I get an insatiable urge to try something and I go crazy getting it right. I did it with Challah about 8 years or so ago. No one in my family ever made it. They all went to the store and got the ones there. I wanted to try to make it. I found a recipe online and I followed every step, learned how to properly braid it and baked it. Was so excited. Tore into it with abandon to sadly realize it was white bread braided. I found maybe 30 recipes that were all completely different. All minor variations on white bread. Blah. That was the tail end of October of that year.

        I like to bake, and I don’t need recipes (something most people don’t get – cooking I do, baking not really). I knew what it was missing so I made it again. Wasn’t right. And again and again and again. I got it perfect and exactly the way I had it in my head by mid December. It was a LOT of hand rolling dough because it requires nearly 5 lbs of flour per 2 loaves, and no home mixer handles that. But after 30 failed attempts (and a lot of pawning not quite right challah into people) I got it. Hanukkah had passed, so I made 8 batches the right way and gave them out for Christmas, because why not?

        I wish I knew where my recipe book is. I’d love to make it again.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s quite a Challah adventure!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Marlapaige says:

        Yeah. Me and the kitchen are not always friends 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. As long as you are having fun experimenting.

        Like

      5. Marlapaige says:

        Always, until I’m not. Then we are enemies again. My kitchen is the perfect frienemy. There when I want to use it, and completely ignorable when I don’t lol

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Very intense relationship, as I can see.

        Like

      7. Marlapaige says:

        Yes. Some relationships are just like that 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reblogging, dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The teenage love story is so amazing, Dolly! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Michael, for appreciating it.

      Like

  13. It was said that the secret to my great-grandmother’s soup was worry. All this worry and hand-wringing and the soup always came out perfect!
    My mother said the secret to fluffy matzah balls was seltzer. I’ve tried her way and I’ve also tried with oil and I think the oil does make them fluffier. But there are certain things a person just does not do, and that is criticize her own mother’s chicken soup!
    Shana tova!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never heard the “worry” explanation, but I love it! I don’t remember my grandmother ever worrying about food, other than making sure everything was kosher, which was quite a task in communist Russia and with lack of running water. She did, however, say a blessings on everything she cooked. I only pronounce blessings on Shabbat and Yom Tov foods.
      Mother’s chicken soup is sacred! 😻
      Shana Tova u’Metuka!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Matzoh ball soup is one of my favorites. In fact I enhance it with chicken and veggies.
    Art

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right, dear Art! Mine is chicken-based with plenty of veggies. Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

  15. I can still remember my grandmother’s chicken soup. She put such love and care into it. Odd as it may sound these days, the chicken stomach and heart were a real treat. Thank you for bringing back a sweet memory, Dolly. Love, A. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But of course! We called them “harzelach” (little heart), and always felt that it was wrong for one chicken to have only one heart and one stomach! I can sometimes get a collection of them at the Jewish store to make a stew which is a major treat.
      Thank you so much, dear Anna.
      Much love,
      D

      Like

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