Well, this should be interesting. Passover begins tomorrow night, so as part of my usual, er, unOrthodox observance of the holiday (“observance” usually translates to “Oh, I see it’s Passover time. I should cook something.”) I’m making chicken soup. Making chicken soup in a new city is always interesting. My cooking equipment is what was furnished with the flat plus a few utensils I brought along. What’s sold for the ingredients varies even across the US, let alone here. When I learned to make chicken soup in Philadelphia, the way my mother and grandmother make it, I could go buy a soup chicken (already cut up or cut by the butcher) and “soup greens” – a bundle of dill and parsley complete with the parsley root. In Texas and Arizona I did my meat shopping at the supermarket; sometimes I could get a whole cut-up chicken, other times I had to buy a small fryer and either cut it up myself (not fun) or if the store had a butcher, explain to him or her what I needed. Parsley was plentiful, but in Texas I had trouble buying dill at first and had to resort to dried herbs a few times. Then it became more common for supermarkets to sell baby dill, which works well enough though I think it’s less flavorful than the grown-up kind.
Here, the only whole chickens were tiny little things, but they did actually have something packaged as “soup chicken”. It seems to be two breasts per package, which is a little odd; I’d prefer parts with more bones and fat. (The chicken is tasteless and nearly inedible after making soup from it, anyway. No, Mom, I don’t make chicken salad from it. I don’t like chicken salad.) Packaged with the chicken were packets of unidentified greens with bits of carrots. I think the greens are probably leeks, which are common in soup here. I bought two packages. It’s nearly a kilo all told, which is probably a bit light on the chicken. On the other hand, my biggest stock pot here is a little smaller than the one I used at home. I put all the greens in, just to see how that comes out, along with the carrots, whole onion, dill and parsley I usually use.
I’ve just skimmed the fat off; it’s a little less than an average batch, but I’ve had less-fatty soups than this, so I don’t think this will be too flavorless. The leeks should help; I expect it to be a very greenish soup. No matzah balls unfortunately, because I couldn’t find matzah meal. (For anyone who hasn’t had them, Ted’s description is “kind of like a meatball, but bread instead of meat, that absorbs the flavor of the soup.” They’re lighter and spongier than meatballs – at least, they are when I make them – and of course they’re not made of bread or they wouldn’t be a traditional Passover food. They’re based on matzah meal, which is matzah crumbled to the texture of fine breadcrumbs, mixed with egg and oil and water and seasoning in the batter, shaped into balls, and boiled.) They did have matzah in the store, one brand available in either full-size or “matzah crackers”. I bought the latter, because they’ll be good with the soup. Good thing I’m not observant, because I notice it doesn’t say “Kosher for Passover” anywhere on the package. (Very not observant. We’ll have the soup tonight, which is a day early anyway, with noodles in it.)
One of the things I like about soups is that they are so forgiving to the experimental cook!