Garden chicken soup

Ingredients:
  • 6-8 pounds raw chicken (any combination of chicken bones, whole chickens or cut-up chickens including backs and wings)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large leek, white portion only, trimmed, rinsed well, and halved horizontally
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and halved horizontally
  • 4 carrots, scraped and halved plus 2 carrots, sliced on an angle, to add to cooked soup
  • 4 celery stalks, (including leaves) halved plus 2 celery stalks, sliced on an angle, to add to cooked soup
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, rinsed
  • 1 bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, rinsed plus additional parsley for garnishing
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Large pinch of saffron, optional
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Rinse chicken under cold running water for five minutes. Place chicken in a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and drain chicken in a colander.Rinse chicken well with cold water and place into a large soup pot. Cover with cold water. Add sweet potato, leek, onions, parsnips, carrots, celery, and bay leaf. Wrap dill parsley, bay leaf, and fresh herb sprigs in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string. Bury the packet under the chicken in the pot.

Bring mixture to a boil and immediately cover pot and turn down heat so that soup barely simmers. Let soup simmer for 2 hours. Add saffron, if using, and continue to cook soup for fifteen minutes more. Remove lid and season soup with plenty of salt and pepper, to taste. Allow soup to cool down. Remove herb packet and chicken from soup. (Chicken can be removed from bones and reserved for other uses. Most of its flavor, however, is in the soup!)

Place a strainer over a large bowl or pot and strain soup, pressing vegetables against sides of strainer to extract additional flavor. Discard cooked vegetables.

Cover soup and refrigerate overnight.

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Skim fat from top of soup. Reheat soup in large pot.

Add sliced carrots and celery and simmer until vegetables are tender. Serve soup with matzo balls or mandlen (soup nuts) and garnish each serving with chopped fresh parsley.

Makes 12-15 servings.

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