Once the calendar flips to September, my mind begins drifting to fall. It matters little what the thermometer reads, the post-Labor Day season is a time for apples, hearty greens, and, of course, chicken soup. For me, the magical elixir cures not only cold symptoms, but back-to-school (or work) jitters as well. In The Mile End Cookbook, Noah and Rae Bernamoff present a simple yet full-bodied and rich take on the classic.
The basic soup takes whole chickens and marries them with carrots, parsnips, celery, and onion over a long gentle simmer. After the base is cooked, they present myriad options for accompaniments, the most simple being Soup Mandel. Mandel are similar to oyster crackers, but souped up with schmaltz and lots of black pepper.
Why I picked this recipe: As a non-New Yorker, this is actually the only dish I've ever eaten from Mile End and I was eager to re-create it in my kitchen.
What worked: Because the broth is made from whole birds, the final soup rich is rich, silky, and jam-packed with chicken flavor. Saving the chicken meat for the soup is a great time-saver as well (and it means you won't feel like you've wasted all that meat).
What didn't: I'm not a huge fan of vegetable batons in soup as they're awkward to eat. Also, the soup mandel dough doesn't firm up too much overnight in the fridge; a few hours of chilling should work just fine.
Suggested tweaks: I couldn't find 2 1/2 pound chickens in my grocery store (the recipe calls for three of them), so I used two birds that were around 3 1/2 pounds each. This worked just fine. The Bernamoffs suggest including egg noodles, matzo balls, and/or kreplach (dumplings made with livers, skin, and fat) in the soup as well. If you've got extra time on your hands, they all seem worthy of inclusion.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Mile End Cookbook to give away.