Laundered Chicken

What should I do with the chicken from the chicken soup?

Now that the weather is cooling, and more families are having home cooked chicken soup for Shabbat dinner, people ask me this question all the time. In Israel, the chicken from the soup is nicknamed oaf mechubas, or “laundered chicken.” Creative Jewish housewives have been repurposing this chicken for centuries.

It is challenging to transform boiled chicken into a delicious entrée. I found some successful ways to incorporate previously cooked chicken into completely different main courses.

Chicken croquettes and chicken pot pie are two crowd-pleasers you may prepare. These dishes are excellent main courses for Shabbat dinner, following the soup. Alternatively, you may plan ahead for Shabbat and make a cold chicken salad to serve for Shabbat lunch.

Photo by tericee

Photo by Tericee.

Chicken Croquettes

Adapted from Jeanne Gold.

  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a heavy pot.
  2. Sauté the onions. Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix the chicken, spices, breadcrumbs, eggs, and sautéed onions in a large bowl.
  4. Heat some olive oil in the pot.
  5. Form patties from the chicken mixture.
  6. Fry the croquettes over medium heat until golden-brown.
  7. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.
Photo by edwin

Photo by Edwin.

Chicken Pot Pie

Adapted from Vincy Bramblett.

  • Frozen puff pastry sheets
  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 3 cups chicken soup
  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 potato
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Dice the onion, carrots, celery, potato, and chicken.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.
  4. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and potato. Sauté for about 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the flour into the vegetable mixture.
  6. Slowly mix in the chicken soup. Stir constantly until the filling thickens.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the cut up chicken.
  9. Pour the chicken into a casserole dish.
  10. Cover with the puff pastry sheets.
  11. Cut a few openings with a sharp knife to vent the steam.
  12. Bake for 50 minutes.

Chicken Salad

Adapted from Food Network Kitchen.

  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Cut up the chicken, scallions, and celery.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The Yiddishe Mamma’s Spell: Chicken Soup

— by Ronit Treatman

In his incredible scientific cookbook Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Dr. Nathan Myhrvold describes how to trap all of the odors and flavors of chicken soup in a test tube.  He is then able to preserve this super concentrated broth for later consumption.  From a scientific point of view, this is exciting and thrifty.  Nothing is wasted!  But this is not the way of the Yiddishe Mamma.

More after the jump.

For me, a Yiddishe Mamma, chicken soup is not just food; it is a spell that I cast.  I begin the process with cold filtered water, the best quality kosher chicken, and the freshest vegetables.  I place all these ingredients together in a pot, and let them simmer slowly over the stove.  The soup fills my home with its delicious aroma.  When my child arrives home and opens the door, he is embraced by the delectable smell of my chicken soup.  He instantly knows that he is loved.  As he steps into the kitchen, I tell him, “Sit down, ketzale (little cat), have some soup.”   My son sits down at the kitchen table, and I place a steaming bowl of soup in front of him.  He savors his first spoonful of my golden chicken broth with little square egg noodles.  The balance of chicken, vegetables, salt, and noodles is just right!  I can see him sigh with pleasure and begin to relax.  It is only then that I ask him, “Nu, so, my child, tell me what happened.”

The women in my family have been casting this spell for generations.  They also made their own egg noodles from scratch.  I buy Manischewitz egg noodles for my soups.  Here is our chicken soup recipe:

Yiddishe Mamma’s Chicken Soup

  • 1 fresh (never frozen!) kosher chicken, with the skin removed
  • 6 large carrots
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 1 large parsley root
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 bunch parsley leaves
  • 1 bunch dill leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of salt, or to taste
  • 3 quarts cold, filtered water
  1. Place the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, parsley root, water, and salt in a stockpot.  Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat, and allow the soup to simmer for one hour.
  3. Add the parsley and dill during the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  4. Cook the egg noodles according to the instructions on the package.

Nathan Myhrvold is an inventor, a scientist, and a master French chef.  Dr. Myhrvold worked with Microsoft for thirteen years, acquiring over 30,000 patents. This is the conundrum Dr. Myhrvold: by concentrating the chicken soup’s aromas and flavors, you dilute its power.  Generations of Yiddishe Mammas will attest to that!