Jewish Penicillin Soup
10 – 12
- 1 x 5- to 6-lb chicken, preferably free-range or organic
- 3 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 handfuls of Jewish fine egg noodles or spaghetti, broken into bits
- 1 small bunch of fresh Italian parsley
- 1 small bunch of fresh dill
For the matzo balls:
- 4 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic
- 1/4 cup chicken fat
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup matzo meal (or matzo crackers, blitzed to a fine powder)
1. Rinse your chicken in cold water, pat it dry with paper towels, and put it into your biggest saucepan. Cover with cold water to come about 3 to 4 inches above the chicken. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim the froth off the top of the chicken.
2. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic cloves, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs, and season with a good pinch of salt. Bring everything back to a boil, then turn the heat down and leave it to simmer for 1 hour. Carry on skimming the broth, reserving 1/4 cup of this fat for your matzo balls.
3. To make your matzo balls, beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 5 tablespoons of cold water, your cooled chicken fat, and the salt and pepper. Beat again, then slowly turn in your matzo meal until well blended. Leave, covered with a plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then wet your hands with cold water and roll the dough into about 20 small balls. Don’t roll them too big because they’ll double in size when you cook them.
4. When the soup has had its hour and a half, use tongs to carefully transfer the chicken to a roasting pan. Let cool, uncovered, for a few minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and strain it through your biggest sieve or colander. Pull out the decent-looking bits of vegetables and put these back into the soup, getting rid of anything else. Put the pan back on a medium heat and bring back to a boil, then add your matzo balls. Put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down a bit, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the balls are light and puffy. Halfway through the 20 minutes, add your noodles to the pan, and cook gently for the final 10 minutes.
5. When your chicken has cooled enough to handle, either use two forks or pop on a pair of rubber gloves and use your hands to shred the meat off the bone. Pile it onto a plate and get rid of the skin and the bones. Pick the leaves from your parsley and roughly chop them with the dill. Add all your shredded chicken meat to the soup, along with the chopped herbs, and warm through for 3 minutes. Have a taste, and season with salt and pepper. I’d usually serve soup with a nice crusty bread roll, but to be honest, this is a meal in itself and perfectly delicious and nourishing on its own.
From JAMIE’S AMERICA by Jamie Oliver. Photographs by David Loftus. Copyright © Jamie Oliver, 2009, 2010. Photographs copyright © David Loftus, 2009, 2010. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.