I Decided to Become My Own Bubbe

I have, what most would consider, a typical Jewish grandmother: She loves to shop, she lives in Florida, she’s an expert in the art of the guilt trip, and food (well…dieting really) is her favorite topic of conversation. The tragedy is, my Jewish grandmother has never liked to cook and she barely wants me to call her Grandma, let alone Bubbe.

In this crazy world where we’re all over-scheduled, over-caffeinated, and under the weather, sometimes Grandma’s chicken soup is the only thing that will save you. A girl needs a Bubbe who cooks.

So, I have decided to become my own Bubbe.

To be fair, I already live the lifestyle of an old fogey. I am in bed by 10 most nights, I always have snacks in my purse, and as hard as I try, I can’t resist feeding every person who comes to my apartment. I am nearly all the way to full-bubbedom at age 26.

I’d venture to say becoming your own Bubbe is the ultimate act of self-care. To truly embody your inner Bubbe, all you need is to perfect a recipe for everyone’s favorite cure-all: chicken soup.

Bone broth is all the rage in the food world right now. Rich in minerals and gelatin, bone broth is said to cure everything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to the common cold.

All you need to start making your own chicken broth is a bone bag. It is not as ominous as it sounds, I promise. I keep a big resealable bag in my freezer where I save chicken bones from meals I have cooked. The carcass of a roast chicken is the ideal place to start. I also save wilted aromatic herbs, scraps of leek, fennel, and onion in this bag. Once I have filled my bag with at least one chicken’s worth of bones, I am ready to start.

bone bag for chicken soup
Bone bag, yo.

Like any recipe that has been passed down by word of mouth (in my case, mostly peering over my mother’s shoulder and then as an adult calling her with a head cold and begging for a recipe over the phone), this is an inexact science. My list of ingredients are suggestions, but nearly every time I make chicken broth I do something differently.

Here is Bubbe Hannah’s recipe for magical chicken broth, good for all that ails you.

The least you could do is call me sometime, I won’t be around forever.


spices for chicken soup

1 uncooked chicken

4 quarts of water

4 large carrots

4 celery stalks

1 large parsnip

1/2 fennel root

the green top of one leek

1 bundle of rosemary

1 onion

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon unground black peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

1 cup apple cider vinegar

(plus any extra bones you save in the freezer, let them defrost the night before)


veggies for chicken soup

For this recipe I start with a whole, uncooked chicken. If you want to make a proper chicken soup with shredded chicken, this is the easiest way to get heaps of delicious leftovers.

Depending on how much time you have, your broth can be made in a large stock-pot, or if you can’t stay home for an entire day, a slow-cooker. Either way, cooking time is 6–10 hours.

Cut vegetables roughly into finger-sized pieces.

If you are using a stock-pot, gather your ingredients and cover them in water. I usually use about four quarts. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a light simmer; you want the water to be barely bubbling. Let simmer for six hours.

If you are using a slow-cooker, cover your ingredients with water, cover, and set your crockpot to simmer for 6 hours.

(You can do a lot in 6 hours, like color-code your bookshelf, or watch an entire season of “Peaky Blinder”.)

After six hours (or once your chicken has reached an internal temperature of 190°F), remove the chicken from the liquid. Leave the rest of the ingredients cooking. Let the chicken cool for 20 minutes, then remove the meat from the carcass and shred for later.

Set aside chicken meat in the refrigerator and return the chicken bones to the broth.

Let cook for 4 more hours.

(You can do a lot in 6 hours, like color-code your bookshelf, or watch an entire season of “Peaky Blinders.”)

When your broth is finished cooking, discard all of the vegetables and bones and strain.

I usually freeze half of my broth as a base for sauces or in case any of my friends get sick.

The soup made with the remaining half is a perfect weeknight dinner. I add steamed carrots and potatoes along with some shredded chicken and corn.

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