Vegetarian Chicken Soup
A schmaltz-free version of the Jewish classic cure-all –By Leah Koenig
Vegetarians need not feel left out. The recipe below maintains the golden hue and soothing warmth of regular chicken soup, but instead of oily schmaltz it gets its depth of flavor from long-simmered garlic and vegetables. The addition of lemongrass provides a hint of bright citrus fragrance, which adds a welcome complexity to the broth. It is a simple-to-make alternative for the vegetarians at the table, and a satisfying start to any dairy meal. And while the chicken-free version cannot claim to have exactly the same healing powers as the original, a steamy bowl on Friday night still does wonders for the body and the soul.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large celery stalks (with leaves), roughly chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
5 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 leek, cleaned well and roughly chopped
9 cups water
2 bay leaves
A handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, split into four small pieces
2 Tablespoons coarse kosher salt (or to taste)
In a large stockpot, heat oil and sauté onions for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, parsnip, garlic, and leeks and sauté for another 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add water and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about one hour uncovered.
After one hour, add lemongrass, parsley, and salt, and simmer for another thirty minutes. Let soup cool a bit, then strain into a large bowl using a cheesecloth or mesh strainer. If desired, add some of the vegetables back (discard the rest). Serve hot as is or with matzah balls, noodles, kreplach, etc.
Leah Koenig is a freelance writer whose work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Gastronomica, Jewish Living, Lilith, Culinate, Beliefnet and other publications.