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1.11.11

UJHAZI CHICKEN SOUP – ÚJHÁZI CSIRKELEVES


Named after a Hungarian actor, this was the first course on the menu when Jim and I got married in 1967. Another name for it is wedding soup. It’s a clear, meat rich soup with lots of vegetables and extra fine soup noodles or very thin broad noodles. The secret is in the slow cooking. You don’t boil it and you mustn’t stir it. Put it on the stove on low heat; it mustn’t come to boil not even at the beginning. You don’t put a lid on the pot and it shouldn’t really simmer even… There is a word for it in Hungarian; gyöngyödzik – this soup has to sweat more than simmer. These little grease spots will appear on the top and kind of vibrate a bit. That is how you cook the Újházi. The original soup calls for hen actually, but that would have taken too long to cook. So I settled for chicken. But the taste was pretty much the same. And it only cooked for six hours before it was ready. The noodles should be freshly made but the afternoon was busier than I anticipated so I rolled out a leaf of broad noodles instead of chopping the extra fine. Újházi calls for a few fresh peas floating in it, but I only had frozen peas and those would have made the soup sweet. People sometimes drop in a small mushroom or two, but not the bottom mushrooms; those would make the soup brown. In Hungary they use tiny flat topped “csiperke” mushroom, so I had to omit that. I have read somewhere to put in the onion in its skin, which is wrong, onion skin is used for purple dye and you don’t want your Újházi purple! Újházi should have a deep yellow broth, in fact you can put a little saffron in it for that very reason, but that is optional.

Here we are in 1967 with a tureen of Újházi Chicken Soup

an entire chicken breast with skin and bones intact, cut into 2 pieces
6 large thighs with skin and bones intact
20 cups water
1 large onion in whole, peeled
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
12 peppercorns
salt
1 pkg. fresh broad leaf parsley
1 fresh tomato in whole
1 fresh yellow pepper [preferably sweet Hungarian, but bell pepper will do] with top cut off and seeds removed
1 smallish piece of ginger, peeled
1/4 of a cauliflower in one piece
1 whole kohlrabi, peeled
1 celery root [not celery], peeled
4-6 large carrots in whole, peeled
3-4 parsnips in whole, peeled
1 Tbsp fresh green peas, [not frozen], shelled
3-4 small csiperke mushrooms, [no substitution] washed and top peeled

• Chop, wash and dry the meat with paper towels.
• Add the meat and cold water to the stockpot.
• Begin cooking on low heat.
• Do not let the water come to the boil. Soup should just sweat instead of simmer. Small circles of fat will come to the surface and vibrate. Do NOT at any time stir the pot. That is how Újházi cooks.
• Peel and wash all the vegetables, but do not chop them, [keep them whole]. Set them aside for use later.
• As the soup sweats, some scum will float to the top. Scoop those off with a slotted spoon.
• When you think no more sum will come to the top add the salt, onion, fresh parsley, peppercorns, paprika, tomato and the ginger.
• Let the soup sweat for 2-3 hours.
• Meanwhile make the fresh noodle pasta and set it aside for use later.
• When the meat in the soup is getting close to being tender add the cauliflower florets, the carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi and the celery root. Do not raise the heat. Let the soup sweat.
• When the vegetables look almost tender that is the time to add the fresh green peas and the csiperke mushrooms. If you don’t have these, omit this step.
• When the soup has been sweating for six hours or more and the meat and all the vegetables are tender, gently pour the broth through a large fine sieve into a clean soup pot.
• Let the meat and the vegetables cool a bit.
• Place on a clean cutting board and cut the breast meat into serving size pieces.
• Keep the thighs as they are but remove and discard all the skins. Put the tidied up meat back in the soup.
• Slice the carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi and the celery root. Put these back in the soup.
• If you can find peas and mushrooms intact put these back in the soup. Discard all the other vegetables.
• Ladle some of the soup into a small pot and cook the noodles. Discard the broth the noodles were cooked in and with a slotted spoon transfer the noodles into the soup.
• Gently heat through and the Újházi Chicken Soup is ready to serve.








8 comments:

  1. This sounds really good. I'll have to try it sometime. I think your grandchildren will appreciate having your picture included in your book. Makes it so much more personal.
    I looked at the first chapter of your book, and it looks just great. Well worth the huge effort it is taking to create it.

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  2. Thank you Laszlo

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  3. What a cute couple you were! (I'm sure you still are!). It sounds strangely familiar... and looks delicious.

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  4. ah yes the Polish Hungarian connection - I was sure it would be familiar :)

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  5. I have just made a big batch of chicken stock and came back to check something I thought I had seen: have you substituted parsley root with parsnips or are parsnips traditional ingredients of Hungarian soups, stocks etc.? I find parsley roots with a lot of difficulties here (luckily I find them!) and as soon as I see them I buy as much as I can (they are labelled: "let's discover ancient vegetables" or something like that and cost a fortune). Some of them end up frozen and some grated and dried. I cannot imagine a chicken stock without parsley roots.

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  6. Parsley root, fresh parsley and celery root [celeriac its other name] are important components of Hungarian soups. I cannot get parsley root here so I substitute it with parsnip. They are not the same of course, but I learned to live with the difference.

    As for celeriac, my experience has been the same as yours. I repeatedly begged the local store to carry celery root and finally last year they started to have them sometimes. But it’s darn expensive here too. Haha, everything is “ancient”, some things just never been used in some countries. Every time I go through the Safeway checkout, they ask me what I do with them. I buy them up when I can, usually four at the time, each small celeriac costing $5.75. I still have some from our garden, and I have been afraid to check if the store still carries them. In about a month I will be out there looking for them again.

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  7. Zsuzsa, I am happy because celeriac is available here all year round and it's quite cheap! However I pay a lot for parsley... I have heard that in some countries they cheat and try to pass parsnip as parsley (apparently it's cheaper to grow!).
    I also have parsley on my balcony :-) I must say every year when the temperature gets really low (usually end of December) I have several small roots (my boxes are not deep enough). They are particularly aromatic!
    It's funny they always ask you when you buy celeriac! When I buy green tomatoes on the market the Turks who sell them as second (or third) category tomatoes ask me what I do with them. Lately I have talked longer to one of them and he told me that in Turkey they also use it for pickles! (He was surprised because I wasn't Turkish and kept on buying green tomatoes and hot chili all the time ;-) ) They also sell the long sweet peppers used in Hungary all year round, so I'm very lucky.
    By the way, I always wash celeriac very well and use only the ugly peel in soups and stocks (it freezes very well too!). The rest goes to celery remoulade, an excellent raw celeriac salad. I hate cooked celeriac, but I love it as aromatic addition to stocks.

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  8. Oh yes, parsnip grows like a weed and it winters well even in cold climates. Last year we had last year's parsnip until May! This year they did not do so well and soon I will have buy them too. I just LOVE celeriac salad or a bit of cooked celeriac mixed in my mayonnaise based potato salad.

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I began to post recipes for my family and it turned out to be a work in progress. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has over 900 recipes of Hungarian and international recipes. My recipes are organized into a cookbook format. On top of the page click on the cookbook to get access to all my recipes. If I ever figure out how to add a printer friendly gadget I will add it. In the meantime feel free to cut and paste. Happy cooking!

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