When you had a cold growing up in our house, you could bet that mom’s chicken soup was in your future. Only when someone was sick would this soup appear on the stove, and now, all these years later, we are finding out that there really are medicinal benefits in chicken soup for curing the common cold. Throughout the sixties, I can remember pots of this being delivered to whoever had a cold in the neighborhood. It seemed that all winter long there was always a pot of this delicious soup cooking on the stove in our kitchen. While it was not my favorite then (remember…I was always sick when I ate this), I have come to love this on a cold winters night as well as when my sinuses are stuffed and I feel achy. I have made some basic changes to her recipe over the years, but honestly, I just added an ingredient or two. This is homemade chicken soup in its basic form, with a variation of the times. When my family smells this cooking, I can see their sinuses clear and their hearts warm.
Mom’s Chicken Soup
One 3 to 4 pound chicken…nowadays we like organic, free range, if possible
2 leeks, white part chopped
3 – 4 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 small onions, quartered
2 parsnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
5 to 6 Italian plum tomatoes, squished or chopped
fresh or dried oregano and thyme, to taste
1 TBSP of turmeric ( this is my addition…they did not know from turmeric in the 1960s).
salt and pepper to taste…..I can tell you that I add at least 2 TBSP of Kosher salt
5 quarts of water, approximately
I put all the above in a large pot and bring to a boil. Then I simmer on low for about 2 hours. I then take the chicken out of the soup, and take all the meat off the bone and then put just the meat back into the broth.
While the soup is cooking as above, I boil some faro separately, which I will add to the soup when it is done. Farro is a grain that is nuttier and crunchier than brown rice. Cook as directed until crunchy. Then add as much as desired to the soup before serving. You can now buy faro in most food stores, but if you cannot find it, certainly brown rice will do. I also love an egg noodle or a tiny bow or ditalini pasta. Use whatever you like, but I highly recommend the farro.