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January is designated as National Soup Month, and appropriately so. After all, what is more soothing than a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day? At JGS Lifecare, residents and staff alike look forward to the mouth-watering soups prepared daily by Sharon Ritchie and her staff. Sharon, who is the Food Service Director at JGS Lifecare, believes soups are somewhat magical. “Soup warms a person’s body and soul,” explains Ritchie. “There is really nothing like freshly prepared, homemade soup.”

Undoubtedly, the hands-down favorite soup among residents is the delicious Matzo Ball Soup. There are many variations, and recipes are often handed down in families one from one generation to the next. For Sharon, the secret to the perfect chicken soup are the homemade matzah balls. “We never use a pre-produced product, always making our own matzah balls from scratch,” noted Sharon. “They are light, fluffy and very flavorful.” Richie varies the soup by adding noodles or rice instead of the matzo balls, but the matzo ball version continues to be the most popular option.

Featuring 10-12 different soups, the JGS menu offers a variety of tastes and textures. Sharon’s personal favorite: cream of broccoli. “It’s creamy, satisfying and nutritious, plus the vibrant green color enhances the visual appeal.” Other soups in the rotation include Split, Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Spinach, Navy Bean, Lentil, French Onion, Cream of Carrot, Carrot Potato Chowder, Tomato Rice, and Vegetable and Mushroom Barley.

With National Soup Month now underway, it seems clear that the appeal of soup is universal. And fortunately for us, homemade soup will remain a year-round staple at JGS. The best news of all: soup is featured on the dinner menu seven days a week. How comforting.

 

Matzo Ball Chicken Soup
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 1 large kosher roasting chicken, giblet bag removed, trimmed of excess fat and rinsed
  • 12-14 cups water
  • 4 stalks celery with leaves
  • 2 large onions, halved
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and ends chopped off
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped dill, plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • Homemade matzo balls, noodles, or rice

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken in a very large pot and pour in about 12–14 cups water, making sure the chicken is covered. With the pot uncovered, bring to a boil, using a slotted spoon to skim and discard the foam that accumulates. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the celery, onions, carrots, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. Skim occasionally as foam appears.
  2. Remove the chicken, veggies and herbs from the pot and set aside. Strain the soup through a sieve or colander, returning the clear broth to a clean pot. Shred the chicken and add to broth. Discard the onions and parsley. Roughly chop the carrots and celery and add them back into the soup.
  3. To serve, spoon the soup into bowls. Add one matzo ball (or ¼ cup noodles or rice) and garnish with dill or parsley.
Blanche White was a cook at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home for 37 years! Blanche retired just last year and has fond memories of making soups and other menu items.