I’ve been serving the same basic chicken soup recipe for more than thirty years. My family, even the “vegetarians” among them, look forward to chicken soup at the Friday night Shabbos dinner, rain or shine, winter or summer.
As far as changes over the years, they have been minimal. I sometimes leave the vegetables whole and sometimes dice the vegetables. When Kaitlyn visits, I add an extra onion and eliminate the celery. When Michelle visits, I add extra zucchini. Leah loves eating the dill sprigs that I remove from the soup before serving. Aaron and Davida put no extra demands on the chicken soup and they enjoy the soup any way that it is served.
This winter I upgraded the chicken soup. I added cubes of waxed turnip, also known as rutabaga.
I didn’t think that it was a big deal, until the first time I served the upgraded soup.
“What did you do differently to the soup?” asked Leah. “Yeah” chimed in the rest of the family.
I braced myself. After all, upgrading a thirty-year constant can be a big deal.
I need not have worried because they all loved the assertive flavor and color of the diced rutabaga. It was just another distinctive character in the colorful combination of textures and flavors of my chicken soup.
And, that is perfectly fine. The chicken soup is kind of like our family, our Shabbos table and our lives, a colorful blend of personalities.
One pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast trimmings
1 white turnip, peeled and cubed
1 waxed turnip (rutabaga), well-peeled and cubed
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 stalks celery (optional), scrubbed and cut into 1 inch sections
2 small onions (optional), peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons salt (more or less for taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1-2 sprigs dill (optional)
2 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch sections
Peel and prepare vegetables. The rutabaga has a thick waxed coating, so peel carefully with a peeler or a paring knife, taking care to remove every bit of peel.
Place chicken and vegetables (except zucchini) in a large stock pot and fill 2/3 to the top with water. Bring soup to a rolling boil and then lower heat to medium and cook for one more hour.
Replace any water that has evaporated, making sure that the level of the soup broth is where it started before cooking. Add zucchini and increase flame to high. Boil for 15-20 more minutes.