Tuesday, 24 May 2016

DINE WITH BEA: Jewish Penicillin - My Favourite Chicken Soup |

When we are in the wars, as my grandmother would say, we all crave our favourite comfort food. Growing up, chicken soup was quite literally the cure for everything, we don't call it Jewish Penicillin for nothing! When I am poorly, there is nothing more satisfactory than a bowl (...or several) of my mother's chicken soup. My mother's chicken soup was a little less traditional than her inspiration, my nanny Pauline; except, my mother, who acquired her Cordon Bleu through Raymond Blanc's cookery school, would add seasonal vegetables such as suede, parsnip, leek, sweet potato and even potato to deepen the flavour of the stock and add various textures and flavours to each and every mouthful. The root vegetables are earthy and sweeter in taste, suede is the most flavourful of them all, textured similar to a carrot, yet the sweetest of them all and it is delicious!! The most delicious winter warmer...

Mother's Kneidels (Matzoh balls) were always made from scratch and abstractly large. I mean let's just say you definitely got your servings worth, and they were fluffy, and moist; not dense. I personally am more in favour of the traditional Kneidlach for chicken soup, dense and small; with the larger, fluffier Matzoh ball dumplings perfect for accentuating winter stews. Except they aren't Gluten Free so I will need to experiment in the kitchen to create an alternative, seeing as Matzoh meal contains wheat! I've used past tense, don't fret my mother is still alive. In fact she is currently indulging in 'Gambas Pil-Pil' on Mistral Beach in Marbella. It is here that I tasted the spiciest, freshest and most delicious Prawn Pil Pil IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (to date), which undoubtedly has been enjoyed every year since the age of 6. I like my spice... If you are reading this, HI MUM! HOPE YOU'RE HAVING AN ABSOLUTE HOOT - I am shouting because you are F A R    A W A Y!

My mother and step-father at Mistral beach, my favourite beach in Marbella. The food here is incredible, gigantic tiger prawns on skewers along with lobster, beautiful seabass and THE BEST PRAWN PIL PIL IN THE WORLD. Have an amazing time guys - Miss You xo

But anyways, seeing as I did move over 2200 miles away, to the sun-bronzed, cosmopolitan metropolis that is Tel-Aviv. My new home is far away from the bitter, jaw-chattering winters and unforgivable, foreseeable rain showers. Except I now have to fend for myself (and I love it)! Yes that means I have been able to perfect my own chicken soup recipe, one that will be passed down to my children for them to also experiment and perfect, but most importantly enjoy every sip with happiness and love.

In regards to being young, fun and no longer living with mum (I like this rhyme a lot); The other night I procrastinated for 2 hours before putting my freshly laundered bed sheets on my bed - TED talks got the better of me. My slight OCD means that NOTHING clean can touch the floor without having to be washed again (give or take depending)- it involves standing on a higher surface, getting inside the (inside out) duvet cover, grabbing two corners and flapping about like a bird trialling lift-off. Lets be honest - I don't lift off, instead smile in relief, feeling fully-accomplished and often hot and slightly bothered. It's a real palava, mum thank you for all the years that you made my bed, I definitely took it for granted.

Whilst I didn't grow up in a religious family and we didn't keep shabbat, we did have my favourite chicken soup! For Ashkenazi Jews, it is part of tradition to indulge into a bowl of their mother/grandmother's chicken soup at sundown on Friday's, or in all of our cases when the flu gets the better of us. My Nanny, Step-mother and Step-grandmother make a more traditional jewish chicken soup, which has inspired my own recipe a lot. I have gained inspiration from each and every one of them and developed my favourite recipe, which I now want to share with you all :) It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, this is a recipe to be enjoyed by everyone! Trust me it is the best cure for anything! You feel poorly? You need chicken soup! Did your boyfriend break up with you? Yeah you definitely need chicken soup! You want to lose weight? So...it's chicken soup week! Whatever it is...chicken soup can cure it. Enjoy my very own recipe:

My Jewish Chicken Soup

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 4-12 hours
Serves: 6-8
(It's chicken soup week for me and whoever comes over for supper!)

What's in it?

- 1 Fresh Whole Chicken (take the guts out BLEURGHH)
- 4 Bay Leaves
- Handful of Parsley
- Handful of Dill
- 1 White Onion
- 2 Stalks of Celery
- 6 Large Carrots
- 1 Leek
- Handful of Black Peppercorns
- 3 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp Osem Chicken Stock (find in Kosher section of Supermarket - PS check for Gluten Free options as they aren't always GF, so if you are Coeliac YOU MUST CHECK)

Make the Magic Happen...

1. I always get my meat from the fresh meat counter, you can also visit your local butcher for a prime bird, but it is whatever floats your boat. Make sure all the gross insides are firmly OUT OF THERE! For those who enjoy a Jerusalem Mixed Grill (you know who you are).. save them for later...
2. Once your bird is prepared, pop her in a large stock pot with 3 tsp Salt and cover with water. Bring to the boil on a low-medium heat for 45 minutes.
3. In the meantime, prepare you veg! Peel the carrots and chop into circles around 2cm thick. Chop the celery; peel and slice the Onion into quarters; chop the leek into 1-2cm rounds and place in a bowl with the peppercorns, parsley and dill.
3. Getting a ladle, lightly skim all the fat off the top into a bowl. The fat is separate from the water and floats on the top in an oil-like consistency. You can leave some for flavour, but I remove the majority.
4. Once you have removed the fat, add all the veggies etc from the bowl and simmer on a low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes with the lid on. I often make the night before and leave to stew overnight with the lid on (no heat) as it is always better the next day and the heat remains for quite a few hours, leaving the flavours to stew and ferment.
5. In the morning remove the chicken from the stock pot onto a large plate and remove the skin and bones, taking all the beautifully tender chicken breast and adding it back in to the soup.
6. Bring to the boil on a low simmer removing all the fat from the top once more, and topping up with any lost water (depending on how many you are feeding) and continue to simmer for an hour, until piping hot.
7. Serve and enjoy piping hot...but don't burn your tongue.

TIP: Serve with cracked black pepper on top! 

As we say here in Israel: 
Or in other words, Bon Appetit my darling dolls! 


Bea xo.

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