My first thought when I wake up on a Jewish holiday is not “Wow, another Jewish year come and gone,” or “Hey, let me ponder the significance of this auspicious day,” but rather, “I wonder what kind of soup Aunt Mindy is making and how early will I get to leave work to go eat it?”
My most urgent thought when I set foot in a Jewish deli is not “Oh my HEAVENS, cured meat,” or, “hey, is that the biggest pickle ever?” No, my eyes immediately gravitate to the soups, both “of the day” and permanent menu fixtures, because I’m not leaving without some of the following:
- Chicken noodle (AKA: Jewish penicillin)
- Matzo ball
- Mushroom or beef barley
- Sweet and sour cabbage
I don’t know what it is about soup from these hallowed delis that makes me feel so good, but I’d like to share a New Year’s resolution from a very passionate place: my hungry stomach. This year, I will master the Jewish deli soups like a culinary student masters the French “mother” sauces. Having done this, I will cure the sick, comfort the lonely and feed my own face to a gluttonous extent. I might even share my findings with you.
So seek out this liquid gold (or purple, if you’re going borschtways) and enjoy the best soup this side of …well, probably Asia. I won’t lie and tell you Hathanh’s mom’s phở has nothing on the Jewish stuff.
Editor’s note: Hathanh would like you to know that a modest squirt of spicy brown mustard on a soup-soaked matzo ball rivals her mom’s phở. Who knew that the Jews and Vietnamese would take to each others’ soups so enthusiastically?