The extra care invested in making a rich, beautiful clarified broth results in a dish that's a far cry from regular chicken soup.
To clarify chicken broth easily, strain it through flour-sack cloth (a cotton similar in weave to linen) two or three times. Impurities and fat stay in the cloth, which is finer and much less expensive than cheesecloth.
Make Ahead: Make the veloute and the quenelles up to 2 days in advance; the broth and/or veloute can be made up to a month ahead and frozen. Hold the quenelles and chicken in salted water to cover, and gently reheat them in that water before adding them to the warmed veloute; that keeps extraneous particles from marring a beautiful soup. (If you don't care about that, reheat everything together in one pot.)
Servings: 8 - 12
- For the broth and veloute
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into quarters
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 black peppercorns
- 1 small bunch thyme, tied
- 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, or 1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 quarts water
- 1 envelope chicken soup mix from a 4.5-ounce box of matzoh ball and soup mix, such as Manischewitz brand
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted pareve margarine
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black or white pepper (white looks nicer)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- For the quenelles
- 1 envelope matzoh ball mix from a 4.5-ounce box of matzoh ball and soup mix, such as Manischewitz brand
- Leaves from 1/4 of a small bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (packed 1/4 cup)
- 2 scallions, white and light-green parts, chopped
- 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 quarts water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For assembly
- 1 cup canola oil, for frying
- 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
For the broth and veloute: Combine the carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and garlic in a large soup pot. Place the chicken breasts or whole chicken, breast side down, on top of the vegetables. Add the chicken broth, water and soup mix to the pot; stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over, cover and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove the chicken from the pot; when it is cool enough to handle, debone the breasts and place-- ounces of the cooked meat in a container of salted water until ready to serve. (Keep it completely submerged to prevent the meat from drying out.) If using a whole chicken, pick the rest of the meat off the bones and freeze it for another use.
Remove and discard the vegetable solids from the pot. Line a strainer with a 1-foot-square piece of dampened flour-sack cloth and strain the broth, removing any impurities and fat. Transfer the strained liquid to a large, clean pot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about one-third (to about 8 cups). Strain the liquid through the flour-sack cloth; it should be golden-colored and clear. Let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat the margarine in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the margarine foams. Whisk in the flour to form a roux, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, whisking constantly until the roux turns light brown.
Whisk in 1 cup of the cooled, reduced broth until the mixture is smooth. (Use a wooden spoon to work around the inside of the bottom of the pot to make sure all of the roux gets incorporated.) Whisk in the rest of the broth, along with the ground pepper and turmeric. Increase the heat to medium-high; bring the veloute to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cover and let cool. (Placing plastic wrap directly on the soup will keep a skin from forming.)
For the quenelles: Pour the contents of the matzoh ball mix into a large mixing bowl.
Combine the parsley, scallions, 2 whole eggs, oil, onion salt and pepper in the bowl of a mini-food processor; puree until the mixture is smooth and bright green. Add the parsley mixture to the matzoh ball mix, using a fork to combine. Cover the mix and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Beat the egg whites in a clean, separate bowl until stiff but not dry.
Add half of the whites to the quenelle mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining half.
Bring 2 1/2 quarts of water to a boil in a 4-quart pot over high heat, then add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the water bubbles gently.
Take a heaping tablespoon of the quenelle mixture and use your fingers or another spoon to push it from the spoon into the water. (Or dip 2 teaspoons in the hot water and scoop a spoonful of the quenelle mixture back and forth between them a few times to form an oval-shaped quenelle; then release it by putting it in the water and gently shaking it free.) Work as quickly as you can.
Once all of the quenelles are in the water, cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the quenelles are light and just cooked through. Test one by cutting it in half; it should not look doughy in the center. (This recipe makes about 26, more than you'll need, so there will be enough to use for testing.) Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and let the quenelles cool in the water. (The cooled quenelles may be stored in this liquid, covered and chilled, for use later.)
To crisp the dried mushrooms: Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the dried shiitake mushrooms, stirring them with a slotted spoon for a few seconds until they are lightly browned; be careful not to burn them. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the mushrooms to the paper-towel-lined plate, then sprinkle them lightly with salt.
For assembly: Gently reheat the matzoh quenelles and-- ounces of chicken in a large saucepan of (new) salted water. Shred the warm chicken into bite-size pieces. Place 2 quenelles in each individual soup bowl along with a few shreds of chicken. Ladle the veloute over the top and sprinkle with crisped shiitakes. (Or place the quenelles and chicken in a tureen, add the veloute and top with the shiitakes.) Serve immediately.
From Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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