Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Better Than Big Barry's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

My husband is a soup person. Loves his soup. And I've been on a big homemade soup kick lately, but he hasn't really taken to any of them since they are all a little too healthy for his style. Quinoa Corn Chowder? Nope. Tuscan Bean Soup? Definitely not. Chicken Noodle Soup? Oh yeah. When he finally wandered into the kitchen to see what I was up to and saw the soup in the pot, he eyes nearly bugged out of his head, into the pot of soup.

So, the story begins with Matzoh Ball Soup. My favorite soup in the whole wide world. It was the 1,000th time I was making matz0h balls (first time blogging though) and I still wasn't quote ready to tackle the homemade soup element of it though.

Our story continues with Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. By now I'm starting to feel my way into homemade soup, but I'm still not quite there so I mix in some chicken broth and use sparing amounts of raw chicken and water. Something about the raw chicken in the soup wasn't rubbing me right.

But yesterday I was planning ahead to Friday, when I will home sick half the day after having a (hopefully painless) procedure. Hmm...what could I have on hand that will make me feel better? Duh...soup. So I leave work and I call Grandma from the car, who is always on-hand for cooking consultation as she doesn't really leave her house much anymore. Grandma gives me the shopping list, of which I already had most of at home except the cheesecloth (to strain out the fat at the end), dill, turnip, and an ingredient described like this: "That other root vegetable that goes in soup...the one with the green fringe on top. Just throw the whole thing in...fringe and all. You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it at the market. If you can't find it, ask an employee or an old lady. They should know what goes in soup." Ummm....the employees in my market don't speak English really and I'd bet the old ladies don't either. And if they did, I highly doubt they would know what goes into old fashioned chicken soup. Needless to say, I came out root-less (and its not a parsnip or a turnip, according to Grandma). I also had some concerns when I asked where to find cheesecloth, I was told to ask at the deli counter or look in the dairy aisle. My reply: "Um, it's not cheese you know." Butcher counter guy's reply: "It's not?" Oddly enough, I found it hanging on a hook over the hot dogs...across from the cheese. What are the odds?

OK, so we're home...we're cooking....and you are wondering why the hell this soup is called Better than Big Barry's Chicken Noodle Soup. So my husband begs for a bowl the second it is ready to eat. I try to tell him that it should be eaten tomorrow after it sits, but he will have none of that. So I made him a small bowl. One bite and his eyes lit up like he had just gone to heaven. He exclaimed, "This is even better than the soup at Big Barry's!!!!" So now, us both being Jewish New Yorkers, I'm assuming that Big Barry's is a Jewish deli somewhere out on Long Island near where he grew up. OH. NO. Big Barry's was a COWBOY WESTERN THEMED restaurant from his childhood. He proceeded to go into great detail about this place for about 20 minutes. I have known him for 12 years and I have never seen him speak about anything with such enthusiasm. The jail cell where he had a birthday party, the cowboy-costumed waiters, the food served in cast iron skillets, the "gunman" in the watchtower on top of the restaurant with his shotgun aimed at the parking lot, and last but not least...the chicken noodle soup served in big tin mugs. Before yesterday, it was apparently the best soup in the world.

And now I can say with great pride and enormous pleasure that my soup tops that. Yee haw!

1 (3 pound) roasting chicken
2 large carrots, chopped
2 large celery stalks with leaves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 parsnip, sliced in half vertically
1 turnip, sliced in half
3 garlic cloves, peeled
several springs of parsley and dill
10-12 cups cold water
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces pasta (optional)

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs (reserving a few springs of dill) in a large stockpot. Add enough cold water to cover all the contents of the pot. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer; cover pot, but vent to allow steam to escape. Simmer for about 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, remove chicken from the soup. Remove as much meat as possible and discard skin and bones. Remove turnip and parsnip and discard. Find garlic cloves (they should be floating near the top) and smash them against the side of the pot and mix the smashed garlic into the soup. Add chicken meat back to soup; season with salt and pepper and add leaves of reserved dill springs. Add pasta and bring back to a boil; boil until pasta is cooked through.

Remove pot from heat and cover top surface of soup with cheesecloth. Push cloth down into soup until it sits just below the surface. Allow to cool completely, preferably overnight. Slowly lift cheesecloth up, separating the fat from the top surface of the soup. Reheat to serve.

Yields 10 servings.

WW info:
core - all included (without pasta); 1 point with pasta
flex - 3 points per serving (including pasta)


MrsPresley said...

this looks AMAZING!!! i have never cooked with a whole chicken before (just cornish game hens). this looks perfect for a cold winter day :)

i wish my hubby liked soup.

Cara said...

Thanks Dori, I have been looking forward to this update... I still need to perfect my soup skills so I'll be giving this a try next time!

Kayte said...

this looks fabulous. what kind of pasta did you use? i cannot wait to try this recipe. it looks so yummy!

mrsdanigirl8 said...

The story behind the soup was almost as good as the recipe itself. Thanks for sharing!

Dori said...

Kayte- I used tagliatelle.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This bowl of soup looks ABSOLUTELY delicious!!!!

Kim said...

That green root thing your Grandma was talking about is probably fennel.

Anonymous said...

It also could have been leeks

VickiSept2006 said...

I made this for my husband today. He said that it was "out of this world." Quite a compliment coming from him! This is definitely a keeper, even without your grandmother's mystery ingredient!

nicole said...

hi, i came across your blog on a ww search and your recipes look great! i never thought of skimming my soup with a cheeseclooth; that's a good idea.

i think your grandmother was talking about a parsley root. she might know it by the name petrushke, which is what most of the older people i know call it. it's used a lot in european jewish cuisine, especially in soups and stews.

i'm looking forward to trying this, since my husband always makes the soup and loads them with consommes and powdered broth which i can't stand.