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Jewish Penicillin

The best chicken soup comes from a chicken you have roasted with onion and fresh thyme stuffed into the cavity of the bird. Rosemary is nice too, but I prefer thyme for soup. After carving the bird and removing as much meat as possible from the carcass, boil the bones, covered in chicken stock for an hour or so. I do this just after dinner and put the entire pot in the fridge overnight. Chilling the stock allows the fat to rise and you can easily remove the fat from the cold pan. You will want at least one or two cups of chicken meat for your soup. Chop it or shred it - your choice. (If you don't have enough left-over chicken from dinner, boil a few chicken breasts with the carcass.)

To make the soup, sauté one yellow onion, (finely chopped) one carrot(peeled and cut into tiny cubes) and two or three stalks of chopped celery in a few tablespoons of olive or vegetable oiluntil soft, about 5 minutes, in a soup pot or Dutch oven.

Remove the fat from the refrigerated stock, and throw it away. If the stock is gelatinous, heat it a bit and then add it to the sautéed vegetables by pouring it through a strainer. Chop up left-over chicken meat and add it to the soup. Bring to a boil and test for seasonings. Add pepper and thyme to taste. Add more chicken stock if your soup is too thick with meat and veggies or if you are going to add noodles. Let boil slowly for about 20 minutes until carrots are tender. To finish, add a handful of finely chopped parsley if you have some in the house - not important. Taste for saltiness and add if needed.

If you are going to add noodles, I suggest you cook them separately and add just at serving time. Try a nice thin/fine egg noodles, such as the the types made by Manischewitz or Streit's. These noodles are usually found in the kosher section of any major supermarket. Cooked rice or Matzo Balls are another option, but the soup is fine without noodles or rice.

For a sick friend: Ladle soup into a quart canning jar and decorate the lid for a nice presentation. There is nothing like a bowl of chicken soup for a stuffy chest!

To freeze for later: Chicken soup is great to have on-hand in the freezer for emergency comfort-food. Put a few handfuls of thin, uncooked noodles in the soup. Remove from heat. Stir to mix. Pour the soup into a plastic container and freeze it solid. Remove from the container, and vacuum-seal (I recommend one from FoodSaver.com, and I like to freeze the soup in a flat shape and then vacuum-seal. This is much easier to "stack" in the fridge and thaws quickly.) As the soup thaws, the noodles will absorb the liquid and be ready to eat (and not be soggy) by the time the soup is heated through.

It's soup!