Beloved chef Julia Turshen has helped write some pretty legendary cookbooks in her time (Buvette, The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, to name a few), but her best book yet may be her own. Since its release last September, Small Victories was named one of the best cookbooks of Fall 2016 by The New York Times, and for good reason—the easy-to-follow prose reads like a lesson in the kitchen taken with your best friend over some tea.
One favorite recipe from the classic cookbook is Turshen’s Aunt Renee’s Chicken Soup, named after the author’s dearly departed aunt. “It is unequivocally my favorite food in the world,” explains Turshen. “The small victory here is not just carrying on traditions, but also learning how to make a good chicken soup; because in doing so, you learn to make chicken stock—the backbone (no pun intended) for so many things in the kitchen. You can put a whole chicken directly in the pot, but I like to separate it so that the white meat is easy to retrieve early on and, also, the whole pot is easier to stir during cooking.”
Like so many of the best chicken recipes, the below recipe is unbelievably versatile, and makes the perfect base for everything from classic chicken noodle to more variations, like a spicy Thai version or Italian Wedding. Really whatever suits your mood—chicken soup for the soul, indeed.
Aunt Renee’s Chicken Soup
One 4-lb (1.8-kg) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 thighs, and 2 legs), backbone reserved
1 lb. (455 g) chicken wings
2 large yellow onions, unpeeled, roughly chopped
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, halved horizontally so that the cloves are exposed
A handful of fresh Italian parsley sprigs, stems reserved and leaves finely chopped
1 T black peppercorns
8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
3 quarts (2.8 liters) water
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
A handful of roughly chopped fresh dill
1. In the largest pot you have, combine chicken pieces, chicken wings, onions, celery, garlic, parsley stems, peppercorns, and 1 tablespoon salt. Add half of the carrots to the pot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the top, until the chicken breasts are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.
2. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts from the pot and set them aside in a bowl. Continue simmering the stock, stirring it every so often and skimming any foam that rises to the top, until everything in the pot has given up all of its structural integrity (the vegetables should be totally soft and the chicken should look well past its prime—this is all great, it means these things have given all of their flavor to the water) and the stock is a rich golden color, about 3 hours.
3. While the stock is simmering, let the chicken breasts cool to room temperature, and then discard the skin, remove the meat from the bones (discard the bones), and shred the meat. Set the meat aside.
4. Ladle the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot (or, if you don’t have another large pot, ladle it into a bowl, clean the pot you started with, and return the stock to the pot). Discard the contents of the sieve (everything in it will have given all it can by this point).
5. Bring the stock back to a boil and season to taste with salt (be bold, it will need quite a bit!). Add the remaining carrots and the parsnips, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
6. Add the reserved chicken breast meat to the soup and let it warm up for a minute or two. Ladle the soup into bowls, and top each with some of the chopped parsley and dill. Serve immediately.
Note: This soup is even better the next day. Do not discard the hardened fat that will have formed on top after the soup has been refrigerated. According to Turshen, “the rich pools of chicken fat on top of your soup are essential.”
Italian Wedding Soup
Leave out the parsnips and extra carrots and save the cooked chicken breasts for something else. Poach little meatballs in the soup and wilt in some chopped escarole right before serving. Each bowl should get lots of grated Parmesan cheese.
Thai Chicken Soup
Add a large piece of crushed fresh ginger, a bunch of scallions, some cilantro stems, and a chopped chile to the broth. Adjust the water to 10 cups (2.4 liters) and add a 13 1/2-ounce (398 ml) can of full-fat coconut milk. Leave out the parsnips and extra carrots and simply serve the broth with the shredded chicken. Top with sliced scallions and cilantro leaves.
Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Simply add whichever kinds of vegetables you like to the strained broth (with or without the parsnips and extra carrots). Add the shredded white meat or save it for something else, like chicken salad sandwiches. Some of my favorite combinations include diced beets and shredded red cabbage (stunning!), finely diced leeks and roughly chopped potatoes, and shredded savoy cabbage with chopped tomatoes. Serve with grated Parmesan.
The post Comfort Food for Trying Times: Julia Turshen’s Soul-Warming Chicken Soup appeared first on Vogue.