Chicken Soup Series: Remedies for the Food System Part I: Soup and the History of Restaurants

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On these first days of October, New York City is cloudy and temperatures are starting to fall. New Yorkers are avoidingDanny Meyer the sneezing and colds of their colleagues and fellow subway riders. For a little homemade comfort, at Change Food we decided to partner with amazing chefs to bring you the series Chicken Soup: Remedies for the Food System.

These recipes are not guaranteed to cure the common cold, but will definitely help keep you warm. We open the series today with restaurateur Danny Meyer’s TEDxManhattan 2015 talk, “The Convergence of Casual and Fine.” Danny Meyer is the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, which has opened numerous acclaimed restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, and launched the casual burger spot, Shake Shack.

At the beginning of his talk, Danny Meyer took us back to France, where he believes restaurants originated from places that served “bouillon” or soup. “The original concept of restaurants,” he said, “came from the French ‘to restore’ and the whole notion of going to a restaurant started at restaurants that were called bouillons, because there was nothing more restorative– there still is nothing more restorative– than a good bowl of consommé: bone broth!”

Danny Meyer, restaurateur and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, giving his talk “The Convergence of Casual and Fine” at TEDxManhattan 2015

Danny Meyer, restaurateur and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, giving his talk “The Convergence of Casual and Fine” at TEDxManhattan 2015

For our series Chicken Soup: Remedies for the Food System, Danny Meyer contributed the following recipe from the cookbook Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals From Our Restaurants To Your Home authored by Michael Romano & Karen Stabiner:

Chicken Soup with Pastina & Parmigiano

By Lynn Bound, former chef of the cafes at MoMA (Cafe 2 & Terrace 5)

Sometimes the most satisfying dishes are the simplest ones. Lynn Bound, the (former) chef of the Museum of Modern Art cafes, loves this soup because it’s a tasty one-dish meal—and because it’s what her waitress mom made ahead to ensure that her three kids always had a home-cooked meal, even when she was working a double shift.

Buying a whole chicken is a better idea than using cut-up pieces, not only because it’s cheaper but because the flesh is less exposed, which means it cooks up more tender. A second batch of fresh vegetables added to the finished stock contributes more texture and more flavor. You can make the soup in advance, but don’t add the pastina until you’re ready to serve it so that it will be al dente, not overcooked.


For the Stock

1 3-to 3 ½-pound chicken
6 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
10 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
1 3-inch Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional)

For the Soup

3 carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise in half and crosswise into ½ inch dice (1 ½ cups)
6 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch dice (2 cups)
1 small onion, cut into ½ inch dice (1 cup)
1 cup pastina
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 1 1/3 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

10 to 12 servings

TO MAKE THE STOCK: Put all the ingredients for the stock in a large pot and cover with 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam on top. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 3 hours, adding water as needed to keep the chicken covered. Remove from the heat. Ladle the fat off the surface of the stock. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and let cool. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Discard the vegetables and cheese rind, if you used it. Return the stock to the post (you will have about 4 quarts). When the chicken is cool, pull the meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Pull the chicken into chunks and set aside, covered.

TO MAKE THE SOUP: Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the stock, bring to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Bring the soup to a boil, add the pastina, and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until warmed through. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into individual bowls, top each bowl with about 2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano, and serve.

Ligia V. Henríquez holds an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University, and is interested in the nexus between food, the environment, and health.


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