Polish chicken soup, or Rosół, is one of the fundamental recipes of the Polish kitchen and almost every grandmother, mother, aunt will have perfected her own version. It’s a very useful recipe to have in your repertoire as so many other soups can be made if you begin with the method here for making a consommé, or clear stock soup. The secret is to never let it boil; simply leave the soup to gently simmer for as long as possible, ideally 2 hours, after which time you should have a perfectly clear soup.
Since the rest of the ingredients are inexpensive, use the best chicken you can afford, such as a free-range corn-fed chicken, which imparts a beautiful golden hue to the soup. Rosoł is traditionally served with fine egg noodles or homemade dumplings called kluski.
My favourite type of soup dumplings are called kluski kładzione. They are made with egg, flour and a pinch of salt and couldn’t be simpler to make. You simply mix up the batter and then drop it from a teaspoon into the pan of simmering soup. If you prefer, you can drop them into a smaller pan of simmering water instead until you’ve practised them a few times. You can also pour the batter through a colander over a pan of simmering water, which will produce thin, softer noodles, similar to spätzle.
Polish chicken soup is the perfect winter warmer, particularly good when coughs and colds creep in. Since the whole chicken is used, you’ll also find yourself with a beautiful bone broth.
1 whole chicken, preferably free-range, organic or corn-fed
2 litres/3½ pints/2 quarts water plus 1 chicken stock cube or 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 large white onion, halved
2 celery sticks
1 parsnip, peeled
small bunch of parsley, tied
1 tsp sea salt
2–3 tsp dried parsley or chopped fresh parsley
cooked egg noodles and/or kluski, dumplings
60g/2oz/1/2 cup plain flour
pinch of sea salt
Place the chicken in a large pan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a medium heat, then carefully remove the chicken and pour away the water. This first boil helps to bring out any impurities and results in a clearer stock in the long run.
Put the chicken back into the pan and pour over the 2 litres/3½ pints/2 quarts of water with the stock cube or bouillon powder. Add the carrots, onion (removing the dry outer peel but leaving some of the darker skin), celery, parsnip, the tied bunch of parsley and the salt. Bring to the boil over a low heat, and as soon as bubbles begin to appear, reduce the heat so that the liquid is barely simmering. Using a spoon, skim off any foam that forms on the surface of the liquid, and leave to simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, strain the soup (or lift out the chicken and the vegetables). Cut the chicken into small pieces or shred the meat off the bones. Cut the carrots into small pieces.
To make the dumplings as shown in the picture, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them with a fork. Add the flour and salt, and mix everything together until you have a thick, but just pourable batter.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil (or your pan of chicken soup if you’re feeling brave) and taking a teaspoonful of batter at a time, carefully drop the batter into the (just) boiling liquid. Boil for a minute or so, until the dumplings rise to the top.
Serve the soup with some of the chicken, the carrots and a pinch of parsley and the dumplings or other noodles.
Recipe taken, with permission, from Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, by Ren Behan, September 2017, Pavilion Books. Image Yuki Sugiura Photography.
You may also enjoy this Polish Forest Mushroom Soup, also from Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, as shared on Foodie Quine.
Ren Behan also writes at www.renbehan.com