Boni Wolf Shares Her Family’s Recipe for Chicken Soup

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Boni Wolf
Boni Wolf wears numerous hats outside the kitchen. (Photo by Keri White)

Boni Wolf, owner of Bliss Talent Group, has quite a bit of her own talent.

Her day job is heading her boutique talent management company, where she places youth, teens and some adults in commercial work and theater, and serves as a mentor in a tough business.

But her professional life started in food marketing, where her father was a giant.

“I grew up in the business,” she said. “My dad, Allen Liss, was a pioneer in the food marketing field with SAI Marketing and Liss International. He was the first one to do cross promotions in food using recipes — he would showcase something like Gold Medal Flour and Domino Sugar with a cake recipe.

“This was groundbreaking in the industry back in the day. The clients were happy, because it saved them money by splitting the costs. And consumers loved it because they got a recipe out of it.”

The family business was ahead of its time with regard to celebrity chefs as well.

“We worked with Chef Tell — he was the original celebrity chef. Our client was Nordicware — they invented the Bundt pan. We had a microwave cake recipe and Chef Tell was going to test and endorse the brand,” Wolf said. “I was about 17 years old at the time, and my dad sent me to meet Chef Tell to get his commitment on Nordicware. I guess you could say my dad threw me into the deep end, but I had incredible experiences and learned a lot.”

It was inevitable that Wolf would become a great Jewish cook, having spent hours of time in the kitchen of her beloved “Grandma Shirley,” who was an incredible cook and a woman ahead of her time.

“She kept a super-strict kosher kitchen, and I loved cooking with her. She was very serious and I had to stay out of her way, but I learned kugel, blintzes, brisket, chicken soup. Grandma Shirley was very intense in the kitchen — there was not a lot of chatter,” Wolf said. “But every so often she would stop, give me this very piercing look and tell me some crucial tip about cooking. I can still hear her voice today, saying things like ‘Always put a whole sweet potato in your soup to balance the flavor.’ And I still do.”

Wolf makes a chicken soup that results in about four or five additional meals. It is an incredibly efficient and cost-effective way to feed a family, not to mention healthy. Her soup consists of the rich, tasty clear broth with matzah balls.

The chicken is removed from the soup, generously doused with Lowry’s seasoned salt and broiled for about 15 minutes to a flavorful crisp for another meal. Extra chicken is chopped up and mixed with mayonnaise, celery and cut grapes for chicken salad.

Wolf also laughed about her “diet” soup.

“So, I always make a huge batch of chicken soup for Jewish holidays and, of course, we eat and eat and eat rich, traditional foods. Then when the holiday is over, I need to go on a diet, and my chicken soup comes in handy,” she said. “I take the broth and cut up the sweet potatoes that were cooked in it, and some asparagus, and this is my healthy antidote to the overindulgence of the holidays.”

She will often double the batch of chicken soup so she can make a Mexican chicken soup by setting aside a couple quarts of broth and adding crushed tomatoes, chili peppers and other Mexican spices.

Boni and Grandma Shirley’s Chicken Soup + Broiled Chicken

chicken soup
Sebalos / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Makes a large pot of soup (or two) to serve 8, plus additional meals as described

Wolf leaves all the vegetables whole to cook the soup. Most are discarded after the broth is done, but she saves the sweet potato for her diet soup. And she emphasizes the need to use a lot of salt — more than you think you need — to bring out the flavor.

The broiled chicken described below is best served immediately, so if you plan to save it and enjoy it another day, store it in the fridge and wait to broil it until right before the meal.

If your pot is too crowded with the chicken and vegetables to allow sufficient liquid, considering using two large soup pots and dividing the ingredients evenly between them.

  • 2 whole chicken breasts
  • 6 chicken legs
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 6 chicken wings
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 turnips (peeled)
  • 8 large carrots
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1 bunch each fresh dill and parsley (divided; see instructions below)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • Lots of pepper to taste

In a large pot, place the chicken, all of the vegetables, the salt, pepper and half of each bunch of parsley and dill (save the rest to add later.)

Cover the ingredients with water, bring it to a boil, and simmer for 1¼ hours. After 45 minutes, add the remaining bunches of herbs (according to Wolf, this adds a fresher dimension of flavor.)

After the soup has cooked for 1¼ hours, strain the soup twice through a fine sieve to ensure that the broth is clear and free of solids. Set aside any broth you wish to use for other purposes (Mexican soup, etc.) and return the rest to the pot to serve with matzah balls.

Place all of the chicken pieces on a large cooking tray, and douse them generously with Lowry’s seasoned salt or your favorite brand.

Heat the chicken in the broiler for about 15 minutes until the skin is brown and crisp. l

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