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Overnight chicken soup


This is the way my late mom, Steffi, used to cook her chicken soup: overnight for at least 12 hours, sometimes longer, until the soup turned golden, rich, and gorgeous. The chicken, wrapped in cheesecloth, gives everything it has to the soup. It defies logic, but the meat, and even the whole vegetables that simmer alongside it, emerge in shockingly good shape. 


 Since Yemenite hawaiij improves everything, I give you the option to add some in the last few hours of cooking; it will lend the most wondrous mildly spicy flavor and sunshiny hue to your broth.

Serves 10 to 12

Active Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: About 13 hours



1 whole 3 to 4½-pound chicken

6 medium carrots, trimmed and peeled

3 large celery stalks, halved lengthwise

2 medium onions, peeled but left whole

1 medium parsnip, trimmed and peeled

1 medium turnip, trimmed and peeled

3 garlic cloves

1 whole bunch fresh dill, tied into a bundle with kitchen twine

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons hawaiij  (optional)

One 1-inch piece peeled ginger root (optional)

Lachuch, for serving



In a very large (at least 8-quart) stockpot*, arrange a large, overhanging double layer of cheesecloth. Place the chicken in the center of the cheesecloth and tie the cheesecloth into a knot so the chicken is totally enclosed. Add the carrots, celery, onion, parsnip, turnip, and garlic, cover with 3 inches of cold water, bring to a vigorous boil over high heat, and boil, skimming and discarding any scum, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the dill, and cook, checking every so often that the soup is moving with very small bubbles, almost like a tide washing in but not boiling. 


After about 2 hours, add the salt. It should taste delicious and salty, like soup should taste. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for a total of 12 hours, either a whole waking day or overnight. Occasionally, skim off the fat from the top. 


Put that fat and broth with it in a bowl in the fridge; when it hardens, tip the bowl back into the soup; the broth slips out from underneath the disc of fat, which I use as schmaltz (chicken fat) in recipes like Medjool Date Gondi.  If you’re going Yemenite, add the hawaiij and ginger 2 hours before you’re done cooking the soup. 


When ready to serve, remove and discard the dill. Remove the chicken to a bowl, cut the cheesecloth open to help it cool, then tip any broth back into the soup. Strip off and discard the skin and cheesecloth. Take all the meat off the bones. Discard the bones. Portion the meat out into bowls with the broth and vegetables. Season with more salt if needed. Serve with lachuch.

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