Jewish Vancomycin

In Recipies on October 21, 2010 at 11:28 am

The star of this show.

What’s the best way to intimidate a modest cook?

Start them off with a complex recipe that has them trying to find seasonings sold by swarthy men in dark, back alleys; or hand a novice a recipe having multiple intricate steps that must be as delicately synchronized as a NASA rocket launch.

I want my audience to dive right in without fearing the deep water. We’re about humble food made great. And there is no humbler food than chicken soup.

“Jewish penicillin” describes regular chicken soup.

Phyne Dyners, while disdaining all meals pretentious, will swoon for this souped-up version of Bubbe’s old-world classic. If Bubbe’s chicken soup is penicillin, this one is pure vancomycin.

The soup’s foundation is (wait for it) a grocery store rotisserie chicken.

These birds have their own allure. On Shabbat, which can be my busiest cooking day, they are a fast fix for suppers when even I do not feel like cooking. Serve them with fresh or (slightly thawed) frozen fruit, a steamed vegetable, and a fast pilaf. Another draw for rotisserie chicken is our ability to eat like a Viking.

After dinner, the still-useful (and nutritious) carcass too often finds its way into the dustmen’s trolley…gasp!

The true majesty of this lazy cook’s Shabbat meal sleeps in its bones when we make a classic chicken soup. Our version uses tarragon and wines, in opposition to bitter-leaning veggies, giving this Yiddish classic a French passport.

Most chicken soup recipes use celery. Here, turnips replace the celery’s bitter notes and add an interesting texture. Carrots add harmony to the turnips and a bit of the traditional colour that says “This is chicken soup”.

Sweet cream sherry in our adaptation imparts a hearty boldness that one seldom experiences with basic, homemade chicken soup.

Many good cooks also forget to slightly thicken their soups, leaving them watery and unappealing. Adding a flour-water mixture to any soup gives it some body. Of course, we do not want to make chicken-vegetable gravy either; so add the flour-water mixture slowly and allow the soup to cook a bit before you add more.

One caution must be raised with this recipe.

Carrots and turnips can stand a lot of salt. That is not a problem for me. I am partial to Israeli-style cooking that uses a lot of salt. Use the amount of salt that tastes right to you. Or, if you are sodium-phobic, you can season the soup at tableside with a splash of lemon juice.

Okay, let’s get started on our Jewish Vancomycin…

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 – rotisserie chicken carcass
3 – carrots peeled and sliced ¼” thick
4-5 – small, peeled turnips in a course dice
1 – vegetable broth cube (I like Knorr brand)
2 tsp dried tarragon (or 4 tsp fresh, finely chopped)
2 – cloves garlic, minced
3-4 scallions (white and light green parts) chopped. (Reserve dark green parts for garnish)
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 cup Chablis
½ cup cream (not dry) sherry
2 tbs flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the carcass in a stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low or medium low and simmer for at least three hours (or more). Add water occasionally to keep carcass covered. Give the broth a couple of twists of black pepper. The carcass is soup-ready when the remaining meat and skin fall from the bones. Sort through the broth with a slotted spoon to remove bones and bone fragments. Leave the cartilaginous parts in the soup; they add body as they cook. Add the carrots, turnips, broth cube, tarragon, sage, and Chablis. Add salt carefully. The broth should be a bit salty to offset the unseasoned veggies. Bring back to simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes. Do not overcook the veggies to mush! Add 1-cup water to the flour and stir thoroughly. Add 1 cup of hot broth to the flour-water mixture and stir well. Now…SLOWLY…add the flour-water mixture to the soup while constantly stirring. (OPTION: Remove from heat and cool. Place the soup in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavours blend.) A few minutes before serving your soup, stir in the cream sherry and turn off the heat. Check the seasoning, garnish with the finely chopped reserved dark green parts of the scallions and serve with crusty French bread and a garden salad.

So, was that so hard?

Let’s eat!

  1. He made this last Sunday. This is a great soup.

  2. I’m jealous, Anita! Remember, you have my number if you ever need a second opinion! 😉 Seriously, this looks awesome! I will for sure try it!

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