Monday, December 19, 2011

The Big Red Pot: Chicken Soup that's good for the soul...but not for matzoh balls

My heart seems to be firmly planted in my kitchen this week. In the midst of the holiday hustle bustle, I find myself racing back home each afternoon like a horse to the stable. Content only when I'm chopping and stirring, familiar smells fill the house, and Pandora plays the soundtrack that I didn't even know was in my head. 

This morning the temps dipped down into the 20's. So, of course, that called for something hot. From the Big Red Pot.

I recently ran across Pioneer Woman's chicken soup recipe. I haven't made a full-blown chicken soup from a "real chicken" in a while so I decided to give it a try incorporating some of the suggestions from her readers. My own chicken soup recipe is very similar, but her addition of parsnips sounded intriguing. I found a mixed bag of pre-chopped parsnips, turnips and rutabagas at Trader Joe's so in they went. I also found a tiny Savoy cabbage for pennies so that went in too.

Now, "real" chicken soup isn't "real" unless you add matzoh balls. So I whipped up a few.

But growing up, my grandmother only served matzoh balls in clear chicken soup. We always removed all the veggies. And the meat too. Which we ate separately. Often cold. Over the next few days.

I was torn. I went to all the trouble of adding in these special veggies. Do I now strain them out? That seemed like sacrilege. And what about the chicken? In or out? Tough decisions. But in the end...
I went for complete chicken carnage.

Plus all the veggies.

Plus the matzoh balls.

The total was quite the bowl of food.

And just like the picture...
It lacked a focal point. There were too many things competing for attention. Boubi was right. Matzoh balls need to be the only thing swimming in the bowl.

But if you're in the mood for some chicken vegetable soup? This stuff kicks butt. 

Chicken Vegetable Soup
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 whole Chicken
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 48-64 ounces fluid Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Chopped
  • 3 whole Ribs Of Celery, Sliced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Peeled And Chopped
  • 1 bag Trader Joe's Harvest Vegetable Blend {or chopped parsnips, turnips, rutabagas (whatever you can find)}
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage (any kind, I used Savoy)


1. Remove innards and wash chicken. (Do not use soap, Adrienne.)
2. Place all ingredients, except cabbage, into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until chicken is done.
4. Remove chicken. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and return it to the pot.
5. Add the chopped cabbage, and simmer about 30 more minutes until cabbage is very tender.
6. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
7. Serve. Without matzoh balls.


Iowa Sunshine said...

wow --- looks so scrumptious! thanks for the recipe and delicious pics. i always love your writing : )

Nicolle said...

I will be right over for some of that. I have never eaten Matzoh balls, but I have always wanted to, and I know I would LOVE them. Enjoy your week. I know BSD should be there soon!! :))

Anonymous said...

How I wish I was yearning to go home and cook! It seems to be the last thing on my crazy list. Please adopt my kids and feed them something healthy. Last night was a frozen quiche and brocolli at my house!

Looking forward to some time with you on Wednesday and Friday!

Kerri said...

Looks so good Kim! How in the world are you finding time to make a soup like that this week?! I've never tried matzoh balls...they look yummy though!

{ T G L } said...

Looking mighty fine, that soup is. The elixir of the soul! :)

Personally, I circumvent the dilemma by making it into a Yemenite chicken soup. Basically keep the recipe the same but add turmeric, cumin, a pinch of cinnamon, freshly chopped up ginger, some tomatoes, garlic and a lemon in quarters. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and you're in heaven! :)

This Good Life

Andrea said...

You don't do things by halves! This looks yum and what I need right now. I wish I had a friend close by like you :) x

mandy said...

big red pot you've done it again!

{ T G L } said...

To answer your question: matzoh balls are optional but not strictly necessary. The soup is very filling as is.

Try it and let me know what you think! :)

sloan said...

omg - YUM!! maybe next week, though ... this week's kinda full ;-) i can't wait - it sounds fabulous!!

Amy said...

Sounds yummy and I don't like soup! LOL. Love the big red pot.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

That looks great. I have loved every PW recipe I have tried so far! Another one for the recipe box!

Mica said...

wow sounds and looks amazing...I have been craving soups....I made my Grandmothers Latvian Zupa (soup) last week...yummo you should try it sometime. Easy recipe if you want! Hope you and yours have a blessed Merry Christmas!!!!! Mica

Kristin said...

Yum, this looks delicious! You come up with the best "soul food" recipes. I may just have to "try" to cook a little and see if I can impress my man!

Michelle said...

That looks great. I have loved every PW recipe I have tried so far! Another one for the recipe box!