Lesson from the master: Chicken soup

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Papa's chicken soup

Finished Papa's chicken soup dish. (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / March 27, 2014)

Chicken soup is de rigueur at Passover. And with Passover looming, I called Papa. His chicken soup is a lot like my chicken soup, only better.

He was happy to spill. "It's very simple," he enthused. "It's the Jewish way from Eastern Europe with all the vegetables. Should I tell you what kind of vegetables I use? Turnips."

I listened and scribbled.

"Parsnip. Petrozilia. You could find it in the Korean grocery or Italian markets. It looks like a parsnip but with green on it."

Never heard of it.

"The other one is leek. Wash it out good. And also curly parsley. And carrots, of course. A couple cloves of garlic. Salt. And a lot of peppercorns.

"When you put in all the vegetables and the chicken and start boiling, a lot of foam comes to the top. You clear all that foam off. Finally, it's clear. That's gonna be the soup.

"Listen, as you're cooking, give me a call and we'll talk. And if you're going to make matzo balls, you buy the Streit's matzo ball mix. You just follow exactly what's written on the box. And it's delicious."

And it was. But not as delicious as the original.

Papa's chicken soup

Prep: 45 minutes

Cook: 2 hours

Serves: At least 8

For soup:

1 4-pound chicken

Kosher salt

4 carrots, peeled, cut into chunks

3 stalks celery, cut into chunks

2 parsnips, peeled, cut into chunks

2 turnips, peeled, cut into chunks

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