I wish I’d known my Grandma Bernstein, I would have loved her. She was from Russia and raised four children alone on Miami Beach by opening and running Jewish restaurants and delis on South Beach in the 1930s and 1940s. Three generations of Bernstein women lived and worked together providing some of the most popular meals served in Miami Beach during those decades. My grandma, her daughter Eva, my mother Rose and Eva’s daughter Marilyn. Rose met and fell in love with my Russian father and the whole group pitched in to teach him the restaurant business as well as how to speak and write in English. He became a successful and popular restauranteur opening several restaurants of his own, Al’s Sandwich Shop, Al Nemets’ Restaurant and Grill in Miami Beach and Chicago.
OK – back to the chicken soup. When I got sick as a kid we always had Grandma’s legendary chicken noodle soup or Jewish penicillin. It never failed! When I had my own family, who had time to make home-made soup when you could open a can of Campbells or Mrs. Grass’ chicken soup? Then when my mother was dying and I had pneumonia, my brother made a pot of Grandma’s soup and I learned how incredibly easy it is to make this wonderful, golden, magic elixir.
Find a nice plump, fatty chicken. You’ll also need an onion, a few carrots, a few stalks of celery and egg noodles and most important, a bunch of fresh dill. You can actually use any type of pasta but I love broad egg noodles. USE ONLY FRESH INGREDIENTS! Adjust the vegetables, if you like more carrots then celery or more onion than celery, go ahead. No one cares. But don’t take any shortcuts or the magic won’t work.
Get out your soup pot and lay the whole rinsed chicken in the bottom and add water to about an inch above the chicken. Let the bird simmer for about an hour, depending on the size of the chicken. You don’t want to overcook it or the meat will be dry. It is done when you poke it with a fork and the juice runs clear. It will also be almost falling off the bone. While the chicken cooks, clean and cut up your carrots and celery. I French slice nice big chunks and just quarter the onion. Rinse the dill, get rid of the stems and chop the rest.
When the chicken is done remove it from the broth and let it cool in a bowl or platter. De-bone it when it cools. You may want to add some bouillion cubes to the broth if it doesn’t taste “chickeny” enough. Now add the carrots, celery, onion and dill to the broth and simmer until the veggies are done — firm, not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t skimp on the salt. The noodles can be added to the broth during the last 10 minutes of cooking or you can cook them separately and add them to the individual bowls as you serve. Some (crazy) people don’t like noodles or they’re gluten-free or carbohydrate intolerant. Did I get all the buzz words in there? Ladle out a bowl of broth, vegetables & noodles and put a nice piece of chicken on top.
Don’t worry about fat, calories or carbohydrates, just enjoy and feel well!
p.s. The magic ingredients are the chicken fat and the dill!
p.p.s. Wait til I tell you about Grandma’s Russian Cabbage Soup, it’s to die for!