The world loves chicken soup. It is widely regarded as something of a cure-all for colds, flu and many other physical or emotional ailments. Although no single culture can claim it as its own it is a particular favourite in Jewish homes. A bowl of hot, fragrant stock ladled over softened carrots and egg noodles or matzah balls is a staple. Adding to its legendary appeal, chicken soup is sometimes called ‘Jewish penicillin’.
Other traditional soups include French onion, chowders and minestrone. Legend has it — although it is unclear if this story is fact or myth — that the first French onion soup was created by King Louis the XV of France when all that could be found in the pantry of his hunting party’s lodge was butter, onions and Champagne.
The word chowder is a corruption of the French chaudière (cauldron), and chowder may have originated among Breton fishermen who took the custom to Canada’s Newfoundland from where it spread to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England. A chowder is characterised by its chunkiness, while a bisque is typically puréed.
Minestrone, ‘big soup’ to Italians, was formerly a very humble dish: filling, cheap and prepared with beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, tomatoes and sometimes pasta or rice. The word originated from ‘minestra’ meaning to dish up or serve and it is often enjoyed as a light evening meal.
Break the egg noodles into smaller pieces, if preferred. Get the recipe
To make a good beef stock, sauté two kilograms of beef bones in oil until browned in a very large saucepan. Add two each: chopped onions and carrots; plus herbs and seasonings. Cover with water. Simmer gently for four hours or until well reduced. Strain. Get the recipe
The roux can be made in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl. Get the recipe