Friday, May 18, 2007

Ya'aqov's Soup (recipe)

Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Bamidbar 5767


This recipe was designed for yeshiva bokhurim who want a break from being panned out to families for Shabbath meals, and just want to hang out with the guys for a change.

On Friday night, a traditional, Yerushalmi dinner is made up of hallah, fish, and salads, (all of which can be bought). It it then topped off with chicken soup. (Below, I will provide some quick and easy ideas for adding to this simple dinner.)

I thought it would be too hot for soup these days. But, after last Shabbath (Parshath Behar-Behuqothai), when it got pretty chilly, and soup was indeed called for, I decided to post this recipe.

There are, of course, many of you who couldn't possibly imagine any Shabbath without soup. I, on the other hand, prefer not to heat up my small apartment during the summer months, by having the plata on all night and day. Nonetheless, summer nights in the Shomron (Samaria) are usually cool enough to warrant a nice bowl of soup. So here's a tip plug the plata into a Shabbath clock, and have the plata turn off.

I'm sure some of you are all up in arms right now, either because I dare to have a Shabbath clock turn the plata off on Shabbath, or that I do not always have hot food on Shabbath day (like when it's 38C/100F outside!), or probably both.

(eyes rolling)

I'd just assume address those issue in another post, if you don't mind.

Now, getting back to the issue at hand, soup, don't think that yeshivah bochurim can't cook. Some of them just don't think they can,...or don't want you to find out that they can.

Just in case there are one or two out there who cannot cook, I have designed this recipe to be tediously user-friendly. So, please bear with me.

The Name:

I hope it doesn't sound too gaivadiq, the name of this soup I mean. It wasn't my idea, but that of a former roommate.

When I lived with roommates in the Qiriyath Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem ("Qamash" for short), the apartment on Shabbath was often a-buzz with guys from any number of different yeshivoth in the area, even from as far away as Har Nof.

We'd hang out, sing, tell stories, then walk around the block, so as to get a little activity after a big meal.

I do not mind saying that more than one young man, who was only beginning to explore Torah and religious observance, came away knowing that keeping Shabbath did not have to mean being bored out of your mind.


2 medium, brown (or yellow) onions
1 carrot
4 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
1 large
qishu (Israeli green squash - looks like light green zucchini)
1/2 medium
qolrabi (I have no clue what this is in English.*See picture & note below.)
1/2 c. chopped parsley - fresh, of course!
8 pieces of chicken


Start boiling some water in a three liter pot. Fill it about half-way.

Cut up the vegetables like this:

Peel the onions and chop them into eighths. Make sure to cut off the hard bits of root at the bottom. They taste nasty, and prevent the onion from falling apart naturally in the soup. And, since you might not learn such dinim, unless you worked in the kitchen, or your mother taught you, I'll tell you that if there's a black spot on the root of the onion, throw it out. If there's a black spot on the skin, don't sweat it. Just peel it off.

Skin the carrot. Cut it length-wise.

Peel the garlic. Chop it up, as small as you can.

If you don't have a peeler for the three items above, don't sweat it. Use your fingers. The carrot can simply be washed well, and the peel won't kill you.

Break the celery in two. Break it. Don't cut it. This way, the "strings" of the celery will become exposed, and you will able to strip them from the stalks. Why is this necessary? Trust me. You don't want to be chewing on these strings nor have to pick them out from between your teeth.

Now, if you can't skin the qishu, it's not the end of the world. I don't know why, but it tastes better when it's skinned. I suppose because it absorbs the chickeniness of the soup. Cut off the top and bottom, as close to the ends as possible. Cut it into thirds. If you cannot or do not want to skin it, then poke the pieces through the middle with a knife.

You will have to skin the qolrabi, and that includes the fibrous layer under the skin. Use a knife. Chop it into quarters, and then skin it. Save two pieces for next week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. If you don't want to hassle with that, then throw all of the pieces into the water, which should be boiling by now.

Throw the rest of the vegetables and parsley in.

Put the chicken in. It bought it frozen, and forgot to defrost it, it's not the end of the world. It's just going to take longer.

Fill the pot with water, so that the level is about 3/4 inch from the top.

Bring the soup back to a boil.

Reduce the flame. It should be bubbling a little. That's called "simmering."

After about 10 minutes, begin skimming the cream to brown-colored foam off of the top. Do this a few more times while the soup is simmering. Otherwise, the soup will not have a very nice consistency.

Leave the chicken in for not more than 45 minutes, other wise the chicken will completely lose it's flavor. You can, of course, leave the chicken in, cook for an additional 30 minutes, and serve it that way, for the least amount of hassle.

I recommend you remove the chicken, though. Place the pieces in a foil pan, sprinkle spices like garlic powder, onion powder, sweet paprika, and my special ingredient, soy sauce. I prefer American over Israeli brands. Fresh spices are always better. But, dried spices are fine if you are not going to use spices very much or very often.

Then throw it into a toaster oven, if you have one, for 50 minutes on 175C (350F). This way you will have an additional course for dinner. Prepare some pasta according to the directions, which is very difficult to mess up, and there you go, a home made, yet fairly easy Shabbath dinner for you and your friends.

Best of all, when you're at home, you get to be the boss of your own schedule, and you have the opportunity to do the misswah of Hakhnasath Orhim (hosting of guest).

Now, if you are, or are like a Me'ah Sha'arim traditionalist, I know what you're going to stay:

"That's not chicken soup! There are too many vegetables in it! It's gonna be too sweet!"

OK. But, it's not called chicken soup; it's called Ya'aqov's Soup.

And, if you don't follow these directions to the letter, then it's just not Ya'aqov's Soup.


add a small basket of chopped mushrooms


leave out the celery for those friends who cannot stand celery, although I cannot imagine why,


Replace the parsley with about half as much fresh dill.


In the fall, add some chunks of pumpkin or butternut squash

* Morfix On-line Dictionary
translates qolrabi as "kohlrabi, turnip cabbage..." whatever the heck that means.
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