Classic Chicken Soup

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My sister, Andrea Alexander, makes fabulous chicken soup. She tells me I taught her how to do it. Who remembers? For several years after my mother died, she confesses that she was afraid to make chicken soup. My mother did it so well. Now, I think Andrea’s soup is every bit as good, if not better than my mother’s. Let’s just say Andrea’s soup is unsurpassed.

The essential fact of good chicken soup is to make good chicken soup you need a good chicken. If you make chicken soup with Purdue or other tasteless supermarket-type chickens, the result will be tasteless chicken soup. My sister uses only kosher chickens, and advises that it may be hard to find extra chicken necks and backs in the supermarket. She goes either to a kosher butcher or to a supermarket with a large kosher meat department.

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classic chicken soup

This is simply double the recipe from Soup Suppers. The single recipe calls for 5 quarts of water. There is no amount of water noted here because my sister uses her largest pot – 12 quarts – and doesn’t measure the water. She simply fills it as much as she can. The result is a very rich soup. If you want your soup even richer, reduce the volume by simmering it down a little, after having removed the solids.


  • 2 3-pound kosher chickens (or other superior chickens), cut into quarters
  • 2 pounds (approximately) chicken necks, backs, wings (any combination)
  • 4 large whole carrots, scraped
  • 2 medium whole parsnips, scraped
  • 2 medium to large leeks, with some green, split and washed well
  • 1 celery heart (the central, pale-colored section of a bunch of celery), with leaves
  • 1 large bunch parsley
  • 1 large bunch dill
  • 24 white peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  1. In a 12-quart soup pot, combine the chickens, chicken parts, carrots, parsnips and leeks. Cover with cold tap water, leaving just enough room to put the remaining ingredients.
  1. Bring to a simmer over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the top with a large metal kitchen spoon. When the water begins to simmer, lower the heat so that the water simmers gently. Continue to skim off the foam until no more rises to the top.
  1. Tie the celery heart, parsley, and dill together with a piece of string and add to the pot. Add the peppercorns and salt. Cover the pot, leaving the cover slightly ajar. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat as necessary so the soup never boils, but just perks along slowly, for at least 2 hours.
  1. Taste the soup, and let simmer a little longer if you think it isn’t quite strong enough. Allow to cool until warm. Remove all the solids, and if the soup still isn’t as rich as you would like, simmer it further to reduce the quantity.
  1. Add salt as necessary, only after the soup has finished cooking.


  • Arthur Schwartz

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1 Response

  1. Deborah Aronson says:

    There are a gazillion chicken soup recipes. But certain ingredients yield a rich stock. This recipe should add yellow onions with the skin on to add a rich color to the broth, garlic for flavor and chicken feet for body.
    It should also say to refrigerate the soup so that the fat is easily removed.

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