Chicken soup is one of the most iconic, comforting Jewish foods, and while everyone who makes chicken soup may say that they make it the best way or the right way, there are innumerable methods and recipes that all result in a fabulous, flavorful soup. There’s just no “right way,” although there are tips and tricks to ensuring great soup every time.
We asked you — our readers — what are your secrets to the best chicken soup, and wow did you have some fantastic ideas that I can’t wait to try. I hope these suggestions and ideas help inspire you in the kitchen.
How to get good color
How to get the coveted golden hue? A few people shared that keeping the skin on the onions when they go into the pot will add extra color to the broth. Someone else recommended adding a few threads of saffron. You can also try adding ½ tsp – 1 tsp dried turmeric, which, like the chicken soup itself, has anti-inflammatory benefits.
How to ensure rich flavor
If you are looking to create a super rich chicken soup, our Nosher readers shared several ways to add an extra oomph of fat and flavor. Several of you suggested that in addition to a whole chicken, you can add a few marrow bones, a package of chicken wings, chicken feet plus gizzards, chicken backs, chicken necks or even a turkey wing. Any of these additional cuts of meat will take that soup up a notch in terms of its richness.
One reader suggested adding a whole peeled onion and studded cloves (maybe 8 to 10) and plop them into the soup while it is simmering — just make sure to discard it at the end cooking. It will “deepen the flavor and cloves are anti-inflammatory.”
And perhaps one of the best tips: do not use any bouillon cubes; stick with natural ingredients to add flavor!
Ideas for other vegetables and flavors to add
When I make chicken soup, I use a combination of celery, carrots, onion, parsnips and turnips. But I know each cook has their own combination of aromatics, and several of you suggested adding a wedge of green cabbage to the soup or even some sweet potato. Someone else suggested a large tomato for flavor and color halfway through your cooking time. Another suggestion was leeks instead of onions — just make sure to clean them really well!
One reader shared, “A little grated ginger and a squeeze of lemon juice – brightens up the taste, but also adds to the health benefits!”
I loved the suggestion to add pureed carrots to the broth, which will thicken the soup a bit (along with adding vitamins and sweetness). Someone else suggested adding lima beans, which is a good reminder you can add any type of legumes to your soup for a little vegetarian protein and extra fiber.
And perhaps my favorite suggestion from your emails: “I learned to make fantastic chicken soup in Mexico. They use a few sprigs of cilantro, and a whole onion (charred on the outside) as well as smashed garlic cloves. I agree with the chicken feet as well, they give the soup a good texture and richness. You know the soup is done right when it turns to jelly when it is cooled in the fridge overnight.”
If you are looking for a Mexican-inspired chicken soup, try Pati Jinich’s mushroom jalapeño matzah ball soup.
Tips for matzah balls and noodles
Of course, adding matzah balls, noodles or kreplach to chicken soup is such an essential part of the deliciousness and allure of chicken soup. But there are also a couple of great tips you had about this part. For noodles, cook them separately and don’t add them until you are serving the soup so they don’t soak up all the broth. One person suggested adding a pinch of dried ginger to the matzah ball mix, while someone other suggested 1 teaspoon of onion powder instead. My own tip for matzah balls is to boil them in water separately from the soup, and then add them to your bowls when serving.