In the 1970s, one of the most beloved subway advertising campaigns in New York City was, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish rye.”
Each poster or print ad in the campaign featured African-Americans, Asians, choir boys Irish cops, Italian grandmothers and WASPs, enjoying a slice of the rye bread (see photo #4 below).
The pitch was successful in getting non-Jews to buy—and become fans of—the style of rye bread loved by the Jewish community: a light rye bread with caraway seeds.*
It was so popular, that some 45 years later, it is referenced by advertising professionals, professors, journalists and consumers. You can purchase full-size posters of your favorites from AllPosters.com).
We’d like to adapt the rye bread campaign to chicken soup.
While Campbell’s chicken noodle soup is the #1 canned soup in the U.S., often tied with Maruchan chicken ramen noodle soup, in our humble opinion there’s nothing like Jewish chicken soup.
The latter is not easily found in cans, except for Manischewitz Matzo[h] Balls in Chicken Broth, which we assure you, can’t hold a candle to the recipe below.
So our tip of the day is: Step beyond your usual chicken soup and go for the gold.
RECIPE #1: CHICKEN SOUP WITH MATZOH BALLS
Make the soup a day in advance so the flavors can meld. We increase the amount of vegetables to enjoy larger portions of them in our soup.
Ingredients For 4-6 Servings
3-1/2 to 4 quarts water
1 large onion, sliced (or chopped if you prefer)
5 large carrots, in 1/2-inch coins
4-5 large celery ribs, chopped (we prefer chunky)
Optional: 3 turnips, in 1/2-inch coins
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill‡
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley‡
1 4-5 pound chicken, quartered or cut into 8-10 pieces, skin removed†
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
*Food trivia: Dark, unseeded rye bread is called pumpernickel. It is made from coarse rye flour and has a very long baking period, which gives the bread its characteristic dark color.
†Removing the skin cuts down on much of the fat, which most people have to skim off later. Also, boiled chicken skin is not a particular treat.
‡We often tie a half bunch of dill and a half bunch of parsley with kitchen string and add them to the pot. We pull them out when the soup is done, and then use the rest of the dill and parsley to snip onto the bowls of soup as a garnish.
1. ADD the water to a 6-quart pot, filled by the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, skim any foam, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.
2. REMOVE the cooked chicken from the pot and cut off the bone. You can shred it or slice it, as you prefer. Refrigerate.
3. MAKE the matzoh balls per the recipe below (you can also do this a day in advance).
RECIPE #2: MATZOH BALLS
We were brought up with light-as-a-feather, soft matzoh balls. Our mother referred to firm matzoh balls as rocks.
But it’s a matter of preference.
If you only have one large pot, make the matzoh balls first. You can store them in another container in the fridge, and the pot will be free to make the soup.
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Ingredients For Soft Matzoh Balls
 The way we like it: lots of vegetables, lots of chicken and matzoh balls (photo courtesy Food Network, from an Andrew Zimmern recipe).  Some gourmets add wild mushrooms and truffles instead of carrots and celery and serve crostini with pâté de foie gras, but we’re happy with these chopped liver crostini (photo courtesy David Burke | Fabrick | NYC; here’s the recipe).  From a Jewish Italian grandmother: pasta, of course. Our grandmother (not Italian) and others often added fine egg noodles (photo courtesy Lincoln Ristorante | NYC).  One of several beloved posters of a 1970s ad campaign for Jewish rye bread (photo courtesy AllPosters.com).