The Best Chicken Soup Anyone Has Ever Tasted: G G’s European Old Fashioned Chicken Soup Step by Step

A great grandparent is a GG in our family.  GG is an easy name for a great grandchild to say.

Everyone who has tasted GG’s European Old Fashioned Chicken Soup agrees it is the absolute best chicken soup they have ever tasted.  GG, my mother, was a Holocaust survivor and her family chicken soup recipe came with tales of small town European life in good and simple times before World War II.

Chopping vegetablesGG brought her traditional old fashioned family recipe for chicken soup with her when she immigrated to the United States.  Every Friday night and on every holiday, we could smell the aroma of GG’s chicken soup.  Traditions and rituals create a family mosaic and GG’s chicken soup was an integral part of our family life.  If anyone was sick, there was a pot of chicken soup on the stove immediately.  This was before we all found out that chicken soup is really good medicine.

No one could make the recipe like GG.  GG never measured.  GG just used the palm of her hand as the measuring cup.

So, one day, my daughters and I watched GG from beginning to end.  We made her dump what was in the palm of her hand into a measuring cup so we could get approximate measurement.  We have to say approximate, because GG did.  She said she never measured exactly the same twice.  Here is the product of our watching GG make her European Old Fashioned Chicken Soup step by step.

  • One kosher chicken cut up (around 3 ¾ to 4 lbs or so –remember nothing is exact and one must play to make GG’s chicken soup)
  • one small bag baby carrots (we modernized and did our own simplification)
  • 4 stalks celery (cut in half)
  • One whole large onion
  • one whole parsley root (also called parsnip)
  • parsley
  • dill
  • Carmel soup mix chicken style or Osem chicken style consommé instant soup and seasoning mix
  • salt
  • white pepper
  1. The trick is to get the chicken very clean.  Use only kosher chicken which is already very clean.  Remember kosher chicken is salty so you will not need much salt with this recipe.  You may not add any salt so be careful adding salt.  First rinse a piece of chicken under cold water.  Then put each piece one by one under instant hot or boil a small pot of water and put in boiled water.  This is GG’s version of blanching. Take out chicken and put in a mixing bowl.  Repeat with each piece.  Then pour cold water in the mixing bowl and rinse the chicken until the water is clear (about 2-3 times filling the mixing bowl with the chicken in it with cold water.).  Now the chicken is ready to be put in the cooking pot.
  2. Wash the celery and cut four stalks into eight pieces.  Peel the outer layer of skin off the onion and wash but keep the onion whole.  Peel the parsley root, cut off the ends, and wash.  Wash the parsley well.  Set aside.
  3. Place the chicken alone in the cooking pot.  Pour in enough cold water to cover the chicken.  (I know this is hard to do for some, but it does work—if you need to add some water, add some water—nothing is exact) Bring to a boil.  There will be a white foam on top when the water boils.  Lower the heat.  Skim the foam off.
  4. Add 2-3 tablespoons chicken powder.  The water should look like soup now—the chicken powder’s color is yellow and will color the water.
  5. Put carrots, celery, onion, parsley root in pot.  Bring the water to a boil again on high heat (do not walk away as you want to be there to mix so the chicken at the bottom of the pot does not burn.).  As soon as reaches a boil, there will be a film on top.  Reduce heat to between low and medium (you want the soup to slightly move as if a very light boil but if it starts to really boil, turn down to low–depends on your stove.).  Skim the top of the soup to remove the film. 
  6. Add the parsley (about a small half handful.).  Cook 1 1/4 hours.  Skim the top of the soup to remove the film about every ten minutes.
  7. After about one hour, add 1-2 tablespoons chicken powder (if need it) and 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 tablespoon white pepper.  Taste the soup after fifteen minutes and add chicken powder and salt in equal amounts (1 teaspoon each first, then ½ teaspoon each at a time) until it tastes salty enough for you.  Remember the chicken powder is primarily salt, so you will NOT need much salt, if at all.
  8. Take out chicken and set aside to cool.  Remove and discard celery, onion, parsnip and parsley.  Take out carrots and rinse.  Put carrots in a clean pot you are going to eventually put soup into.  Soup must be strained of remaining film and stuff.  Take a strainer and put it in the clean pot and pour soup through the strainer.  Let the soup cool.
  9. Refrigerate soup a few hours or overnight.  When you take it out of the refrigerator, there will be a layer of fat on top.  Remove and discard layer of fat before you heat.  Heat on low to medium until hot.  Do not allow it to boil again!

For the babies in our family, room temperature chicken soup was spooned into their mouths and sometimes put in baby bottles by GG.  For young toddler great grandchildren, pastina was the noodle of choice as it is so small.  Young great grandchildren got rice or noodles of their choice.  GG always spooned chicken soup with love and care.  Older grandchildren and adults got GG’s amazing matzo balls—her trick was club soda or seltzer instead of water in any recipe or any mix.  Try it.

Enjoy GG’s chicken soup with your favorite noodles!  Put a few sprigs of dill in the individual soup bowl for decoration and taste for those who like it.  Put a few pieces of carrot in the bowl.  Everyone will rave.  Yes, this freezes well for use when you want or need.  Remember, chicken soup heals when anyone is feeling under the weather—or needs a special dose of homemade soup prepared with love.

GG died on March 16 several years ago.  Her picture is prominent in our granddaughter’s bedroom as our granddaughter is named for her.  I try to make GG’s chicken soup often, especially for every holiday celebration—keeping GG’s tradition and ritual.  This Grandma’s grandchildren cannot wait for the chicken soup.  I always talk about how GG was the best cook and keep her memory alive in our family.  GG is always remembered for her famous chicken soup every time we serve it.  GG lives on in our hearts with

Joy,

Mema

 

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