Matzah Ball Soup Stand to Open at The Bourse in Old City

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Like so many of us, when Valerie Zweig feels under the weather, a hot bowl of matzah ball soup is the perfect thing to make her feel better.

She and her cousin, Taryn Pellicone, founded Prescription Chicken in 2016 as a matzah ball soup delivery company so that anyone in need of a cup of Jewish penicillin wouldn’t have to go without.

As of press time, Prescription Chicken’s new location is slated to open Sept. 28 in The Bourse in Old City, with a grand opening scheduled for November. They will also be trying out a new sister brand of yogurt parfaits, called Gertie’s Yummy Yogurt Bowls, at the Philadelphia location. Prescription Chicken is not certified kosher.


“Chicken soup cures everything,” Zweig said. “It can help anyone feel better.”

Prescription Chicken’s stressed student package | Linda Hughes

Four years ago, during a second bout with laryngitis in the course of six weeks, Zweig found herself in desperate need of broth.

She headed over to a nearby Korean bar and wrote a note to the bartender asking for just some broth. When the bartender told her they didn’t really do that, she managed to croak out a “please.”

“It was this thing,” said Zweig, who grew up in Bethesda, Md. “It was like, ‘Why can’t I just get matzah ball soup without having to jump through all of these hoops?’”

At a Passover seder with her family a few months after the Korean bar incident, she brought up her idea of a matzah ball soup delivery service.

Zweig already had culinary training and a background in restaurant development. She is also a soup aficionado, with a freezer full of different soups. Pellicone, who has a background in restaurant operations, decided to get in on the company.

“It was wild that it wasn’t accessible,” said Pellicone, a native of Wilmington, Del. “[Zweig] had this idea of trying to get chicken soup to people as quickly as possible. That’s sort of where the groundwork for Prescription Chicken started, and our brains started gearing up.”

The two started the culinary business as a delivery service-only in Washington, D.C.

Their first day, they watched the orders come in, all of them with the familiar names of friends and family. The next week, the names became less familiar, as word spread about Prescription Chicken.

Prescription Chicken Bipartisan soup

Prescription Chicken has a range of different soups. This includes their classic “Grandma Style” with either matzah balls or egg noodles, the “Bipartisan” that includes both matzah balls and egg noodles, the spicy “Hangover,” two types of “Bone Broth” and vegetarian and vegan options.

In keeping with their name, their site first asks customers how they feel — Sick? Happy? Hangry? Then it “prescribes” a few soup options. Each order also comes with a personalized handwritten letter.

Delivery is really the heart of the company. They work with third-party delivery companies like Caviar, but when customers have not been able to order through the third-party apps in the past, they have done what they can to make sure their matzah ball soup gets to those who need it, in line with the company’s mission.

“There’s nothing better than, when you’re not feeling well, to have someone bring chicken soup to you,” Zweig said. “We’ll always do delivery.”

Eight months after opening, they had the opportunity to expand to a small stand and delivery service in Baltimore, and decided to take it. Zweig said she likes having a physical presence, in addition to the delivery service, so she can talk to the customers and see their reaction to the soup.

“We always joke that when someone tastes our soup, they do that shrug, where they taste it, their shoulders go up, their shoulders go down and they give this sigh,” Zweig said. “Then they say, ‘Oh, that’s delicious,’ or ‘That reminds me of my grandmother’s’ or my grandpa’s. All of a sudden, we’re having these conversations and connections with people.”

The stand in The Bourse will be “reminiscent of a grandmother’s kitchen, with a little bit of wit and humor,” Zweig said.

“Everybody has an experience with soup,” she said, “whether it’s grandmother or grandfather or mother or father or Campbell’s or whatever it is, soup is the strongest taste memory that there is.” 

szighelboim@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0729

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