Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the Jewish year. As an act of repentance, Jews fast from sundown on the eve of Yom Kippur, Kol Nidre, to sundown the next day. This symbolic act is to atone for sins and to reflect on the actions of the past year. The final meal prior to the fast is eaten early in the evening before the sun sets, whereas the next meal is eaten only once the sun has set, making the entire fasting period about 26 hours long.
Chicken soup is the cornerstone of the Jewish and many other kitchens. I firmly believe in it’s health properties and have nourished and healed my children for many years with this magical broth.
For our Jewish readers I include a few of my recipes, well in advance and wish them well over the fast on Wednesday.
Chicken soup with Kreplach
2 kg chicken, skin and excess fat removed (ie. 1 whole + parts)
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
4 large leeks, finely sliced
1 large whole carrot, peeled & cut into matchsticks
1 knob of ginger, peeled & cut into matchsticks
1 (or 2 if you prefer) red chili, pips removed, cut into matchsticks
2 lemons, zest and juice
½ bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
Salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste
Fill a stock pot ¾ way up with cold water and immerse chicken, cardamom pods with half of the ginger and boil for 30 minutes.
Remove cardamom and ginger.
Add leeks, the rest of the ginger, the carrots, the chili, the zest, salt and a little white pepper and cook for a further 60 minutes.
Test the chicken to see whether it is very soft.
Remove chicken from pot, set aside and allow it to cool.
Remove from bone and divide into shreds or chunks as you prefer (or set aside to serve later).
Strain to check that there are no bones in the soup.
Return the chicken to the pot with the celery, the lemon juice and the parsley and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Check and correct the taste.
For special occasions, the Greek avgolémono stirred into chicken soup is really very good and Jews in Greece do so quite often. It did appear two articles ago, but for the sake of convenience, I repeat it here again.
2 eggs, separated
Juice of the 2 lemons above (in soup recipe)
2 ½ cups stock from the main dish
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff.
Beat the egg yolks and add the lemon juice and the slightly cooled down stock to them bit by bit, stirring constantly.
Now add this sauce to the soup and fold it in carefully but do not allow it to cook any further
3 cups ordinary flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg, beaten, for binding kreplach
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons cold water
500 g finely shredded chicken
100 g onion, chopped very finely
50 g parsley, chopped finely
1 egg, yolk
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mace
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 egg, beaten
Sauté onions until golden in colour, remove and put to one side. Now add chicken to the same pan, stirring quickly until the meat has just turned white and then return onions to the mixture, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and when cool, mix the onion & chicken paste with all the other ingredients, taking care to combine everything properly. Store everything in the fridge.
Sift flour and salt into a bowl, making a well in the middle. Put the eggs into the well and knead into knead into a dough. (Feel free to use the food processor, I always do) Add water and continue kneading until dough is smooth.
Roll dough into a ball, place it in a bowl and cover the bowl with cling wrap for at least 45 minutes, then roll into paper-thin 4 cm squares.
Roll each individual square a bit thinner just before you fill it and keep beaten egg, a teaspoon, and filling nearby.
Use a teaspoon to put the filling right in the middle of the square that you fold diagonally to make a triangle, then seal the sides with egg mixture.
Boil a pot of water, add salt to taste and cook the kreplach as you would any other tortellini, just until they rise and then transfer these to the pot of soup.
It is not without reason that chicken soup, with or without vegetables, kreplach or avgolémono and whether it is served curried, creamed or curdled has passed from generation to generation transcending culture or creed.
It is a dish truly worthy of being served for Yom Kippur.