Total time: 3½ hours
Servings: 6 to 8
Note: It is best to make the soup a day or two ahead and to refrigerate it, so that skimming the fat is easier. The soup is served with herb-flecked kneidelach (matzo balls) and zehug (a chile-garlic relish); separate recipes for these are included with the story.
2 pounds chicken pieces, preferably legs and thighs
2 carrots (½ carrot cut in 2 chunks, the rest quartered lengthwise and sliced about ¼-inch thick), divided
1/2 pound asparagus (about 8 spears), bases reserved and spears cut into thirds, divided
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
2 celery ribs with leafy tops, cut into thirds
4 dill stems (leaves reserved)
4 cilantro stems (leafy tops reserved)
11 cups water
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 white squash (Mexican squash) or 1 to 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced about 3/8 inch thick (1 2/3 cups)
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped dill leaves and fine stems
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and fine stems
Zehug (chile-garlic relish)
1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the chicken, carrot chunks, the asparagus bases, the onion, celery, dill stems, cilantro stems and water.
2. Bring to a boil, skimming the foam a few times. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Skim thoroughly.
3. Add the cumin, turmeric, a pinch of salt and one-half teaspoon ground pepper. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender and the soup is well flavored, about 2 hours, skimming occasionally.
4. Discard the pieces of vegetables and herbs. Remove the chicken pieces and cool slightly, then discard the skin and bones. Cut the meat in strips and return them to the soup. Skim the fat from the broth.
5. In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of the broth to a simmer. Add the carrot slices and return to a simmer, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus spear pieces and the squash pieces to the soup and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add the asparagus tips and continue to cook until the vegetables are done to your preference, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Return the vegetables' cooking broth to the rest of the soup.
6. Before serving, bring the soup to a simmer. Add the cooked vegetables and heat through. Add the chopped dill and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired. This makes a scant 2½ quarts of soup
7. To serve, put 2 or 3 matzo balls in each soup bowl using a slotted spoon, and ladle hot soup over them. Add some vegetables and a few chicken strips to each bowl. Serve with the zehug in a small bowl.