Chicken soupBy Larry Levine –

“Is it really colder than I remember it ever being, or am I just getting older and less able to deal with it?”

A friend asked me that question in the closing days of 2014. I told him it’s probably some of each.

Another friend said recently, “The best part of winter is watching it on TV from Southern California.”

Then the temperature dropped all over California – including the south. At the Holiday Bowl football game in San Diego Dec. 27 I wore four layers – t-shirt, wool sweater, lined golf wind breaker, and down jacket with a hood. And I still was cold.

Of course, Southern California cold is not the same as cold in other places. They played football games on New Year’s Day in places where the thermometer is in single digits – 40 or 50 degrees below what it was in So Cal. But just because they are colder some place else, doesn’t mean I’m not cold here. And cold weather, of course, means soup no matter where you are.

So, even though the temps have jumped significantly this week, for the next several weeks, until spring is around the corner, Table Talk is going to publish a serial feature called Soup’s On. That’s how my mother would announce dinner when she was serving soup on a cold winter day. It’s appropriate, then, that the first soup recipe in this series is for mom’s chicken soup. Mom believed, as do many Jewish mothers throughout the world, that there is medicinal value in chicken soup. We have seen articles based on medical research that says they may be correct.


1 fryer chicken – about 4 to 4 ½ pounds
1 dozen chicken feet
½ lb. chicken gizzards
6 chicken necks
* Roasted chicken or turkey bones (see notes)
1 large onion
2 stalks of celery plus extra leafs
2 large parsnips
6 large carrots (divided)
3 bay leafs
1 Tblsp coarse kosher salt
4 quarts of water, or more as needed
6 oz. package of fine egg noodles

Remove the large lumps of fat from the chicken. Cut the chicken apart – legs and thighs, wings, breast halves, back. Put the chicken, chicken feet, gizzards and necks in a 12 quart soup pot.

Cut the onion into eighths. Scrub the parsnips and three of the carrots and cut them on the diagonal into one inch pieces. Add the onions, celery, parsnips, carrots, bay leafs and salt to the pot. Add at least 4 quarts of water to the pot – more if needed to cover the chicken and vegetables. Bring the water to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook at a slow boil for 2 hours.

With a slotted spoon, remove all the solids from the soup. Discard the chicken feet and breasts, the bay leafs and all the vegetables. Save the chicken parts, gizzards and necks on a plate. Strain the soup and return it to the pot. As for the necks discard the skin and give yourself a treat: suck the juice from the ends and pick off and eat the meat.

Put the soup pot in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Cover the chicken and gizzards with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator.

The next day, skim the congealed fat from the top of the soup. Put the pot on the stove and heat the soup over a low light. Peel the remaining three carrots, slice them into ¼ inch rings and put them into the soup. Bring the soup to a slow boil and cook for ½ hour. With a slotted spoon, remove the carrots to a bowl. Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.

Pull the meat from the chicken wings, legs, thighs, and back. Cut the gizzards into thirds. Save the chicken meat and gizzards covered on a plate.

Prepare the egg noodles according to the package direction.

At this point you may put everything into the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

To serve: bring the soup to a slow boil. Ladle two cups of broth per person into a separate pot. Add 2 tablespoons of carrot slices and 1 cup of chicken to the broth per person. Add a generous amount of noodles. Bring to a boil and serve.

* If you have saved a drum stick or wing from a roasted turkey, or the carcass from a roasted chicken in the freezer, add them to the water. But do not use the meat from either of these later.

NOTE: There’s every chance in the world the soup will turn to jelly when you refrigerate it overnight. You’ll know you have a good, rich broth.

NOTE: You may need to special order the chicken feet, necks and gizzards at your local market.

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