created at: 2013-06-18Want to try an easy Friday night family meal? Family Connections reader and mom Sheri Gurock (owner of Magic Beans in Brookline) shares her family’s favorite recipe and suggests trying it on a Thursday night when you aren’t too busy. “It’s much easier than you think!” she says.

Jayne’s Chicken Soup

My mom’s chicken soup is a revelation. Gorgeous, clear broth filled with flavor. It’ll cure anything that ails you!


Soup pot (I use a 13-quart pot)
Raw chicken, with bones and skin (I use 4 dark quarters and a package of chicken wings)
2 onions, unpeeled and halved through the root
2 leeks, halved lengthwise, washed thoroughly and cut in 3-inch pieces
6 carrots, peeled and cut in 3-inch pieces
6 parsnips, peeled and cut in 3-inch pieces
4 stalks celery, washed and cut in 3-inch pieces (without leaves)
Stems from 1 large bunch Italian parsley
Stems from 1 large bunch dill
Coarse sea salt, to taste (start with 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns


Start by bringing the water and chicken to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and skim the frothy stuff from the top of the soup. Add the vegetables. Bring the soup to a boil again and skim again. (After this the soup should just barely simmer. Rapid boiling after this will yield a cloudy soup.) Add 1 tablespoon salt and the peppercorns, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer gently 1.5-2 hours. Taste after 30 minutes to see if you need to add more salt. If you do, add it judiciously.

Strain the soup. Remove the dark meat, which can be shredded from the bones and set aside to serve in the soup, if you like chicken in your soup. The carrots can also be set aside, sliced and added to the soup when serving. Everything else can be discarded. Refrigerate the soup overnight until the fat on top is solid. Skim the fat from the surface of the soup. Separate it into containers and freeze (try using it to make the matzo balls below).

Bess’s Matzo Balls

Bess is the mother of an elderly family friend, and this is actually her mother’s recipe, dating back to around 1945. According to the stories we’ve heard, Bess improved upon the recipe by replacing the club soda with ginger ale for extra flavor. 


3/4 cup matzo meal
3 eggs, beaten well
3 tablespoons ginger ale (or seltzer)
3 tablespoons chicken fat, margarine or Earth Balance
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour (overnight is even better). Form 1-inch balls (don’t make them much bigger or they’ll get too big) and drop into boiling, well-salted water. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting a matzo ball in half. The color should be uniform from the outside all the way through.