Cookbook author and Ulster County resident Julia Turshen shares this beloved family recipe from her late Aunt Renee, which she says is “unequivocally my favorite food in the world.”
One 4-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 thighs, and 2 legs), backbone reserved
1 lb chicken wings
2 large yellow onions, unpeeled, roughly chopped
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, halved horizontally so that the cloves are exposed
A handful of fresh Italian parsley sprigs, stems reserved and leaves finely chopped
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-in pieces
3 quarts water
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-in pieces
A handful of roughly chopped fresh dill
In the largest pot you have, combine the chicken pieces, chicken wings, onions, celery, garlic, parsley stems, peppercorns, and 1 Tbsp salt. Add half of the carrots to the pot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook, skimming off any foam that rises to the top, until the chicken breasts are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts from the pot and set them aside in a bowl. Continue simmering the stock, stirring it every so often and skimming any foam that rises to the top, until everything in the pot has given up all of its structural integrity (the vegetables should be totally soft, the chicken should look well past its prime) and the stock is a rich golden color, about 3 hours
While the stock is simmering, let the chicken breasts cool to room temperature, and then discard the skin, remove the meat from the bones (discard the bones), and shred the meat. Set the meat aside.
Ladle the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot (or, if you don’t have another large pot, ladle it into a bowl, clean the pot you started with, and return the stock to the pot). Discard the contents of the sieve.
Bring the stock back to a boil and season to taste with salt (be bold, it will need quite a bit!). Add the remaining carrots and the parsnips, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved chicken breast meat to the soup and let it warm up for a minute or two. Ladle the soup into bowls, and top each with some of the chopped parsley and dill. Serve immediately.
Reprinted from Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs by Julia Turshen with permission from Chronicle Books, 2016. Photographs © Gentl & Hyers.