COVID-19 has further boosted sales of soup, according to local delicatessens.
IIt’s chicken soup season. As the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall, there’s nothing quite like sitting in front of a steaming bowl of soup. COVID-19 has further boosted sales of soup, according to local delicatessens.
Luckily, whether you want to sit down or move on, there is no shortage of delicatessens in metro Detroit, ready to whip up a bowl of this heartwarming Jewish food for you. There’s someone who gets up early to stir giant pots of broth, carrots, onions, celery and more at every establishment.
Steven Goldberg, owner of Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, has vivid memories of making kreplach and matzah balls alongside his grandmother as a young child. And he’s been serving chicken soup based on his grandmothers’ recipes since the restaurant opened 60 years ago. Her late father, Jack, mixed the flavors that her maternal and paternal grandmothers, from Russia and West Poland respectively, used to make their soups shine. And this has led to a soup that generations can enjoy.
“It’s very encouraging for me to be able to continue the tradition that goes far beyond my grandparents,” he says. “It feels good. Chicken soup has cultural attachments to healing, calming, uplifting – it’s Jewish penicillin. It’s woven into the warmth and fabric of our culture.
Stage Deli sells chicken soup in its restaurant and also offers a take-out case for people who want to reheat it at home. It makes a hearty and tasty snack, meal and cooking base for sauces, rice or potatoes, he says.
“We make them every day – as big as our pots are in the kitchen, we fill them and repeat and repeat,” he says. “We are working very hard to meet demand. ”
And while he experiments at home, putting all kinds of herbs, vegetables, chili and sauces in the soup, at the restaurant, his goal is to make a hearty bowl.
“My goal is to make it taste like my grandmothers soup, day in and day out, 365 days a year,” he says. “It should be a nice mix of flavors, without any coming out.”
Down the street at Steve’s Deli in Bloomfield Hills, they’ve been selling their signature chicken soup for 25 years to people who buy it for colds and comfort, says Alexandra Weitz, co-owner of Steve’s Deli. “I don’t think it’s medically proven, but some people think if you have chicken soup it’s a cure-all,” she says. “We sell a lot of them. “
In fact, many scientific studies over the years have explored the idea that chicken soup could really be beneficial in helping you cure colds. They’re looking at its potential anti-inflammatory effects as well as how it helps fight infections. Research is also examining how chicken soup helps help people feel less lonely and its potential to lower blood pressure.
Meanwhile, people continue to share their passion for popular comfort food, one bowl at a time. At Steve’s Deli, perennial winners of Temple Shir Shalom’s annual Chicken Soup Kitchen, they have regulars who come from all over Oakland and Wayne counties to order a bowl of hot soup and other popular dishes. For many, he says, personalization is key.
“You can get your chicken soup in a lot of different ways. Some days you just want a clear broth, other days you want kreplach, other days you want a matzah ball, other days you want it all, ”he says. “It depends on the weather.”
Some people just have carrots, some have noodles, some have a hodgepodge, whatever’s in there. “It’s actually part of the old-fashioned deli, getting real natural chicken soup with noodles and adding kreplach or matzah dumplings or carrots,” Weitz adds.
A more recent addition to the local deli scene, Val’s Delicatessen in West Bloomfield opened in December 2019, with co-owners Val Izrailov and Carey Gerchak just getting started when the pandemic hit. Still, they were able to stay open and have a loyal following, says Izrailov, with chicken soup their best-selling item.
“We are known for our chicken soup,” says Izrailov. In 2020, Val’s Deli won the People’s Choice Award, Best Matzah Ball Professional and Best Chicken Noodle Professional at the 10th Annual Temple Shir Shalom Chicken Soup.
They consume about five gallons a day, he says. “I think it’s just a Jewish staple. People order it when it’s 90 degrees outside or when it’s 5 degrees outside – people love it.
When Izrailov goes to work at 6 a.m., the soup is the first thing he starts. “We have a huge kettle at the back of the restaurant and the chicken soup is constantly boiling,” he says. “We put a lot of love in the soup.”
A pickle twist
West Bloomfield’s Pickles & Rye Deli makes chicken soup daily and on Wednesdays also has Polish Dill Pickle Soup with a base of chicken soup.
“It’s similar to our usual soup, but it’s a creamier soup that contains pickles,” says Art Dubin, a chef at the delicatessen. “It’s really popular.
Broth is always what people think of when it’s cold, he says. And in the seven and a half years since Pickles & Rye opened, he’s brought chicken soup with a rich, hearty flavor to the community – at the rate of 10 to 15 gallons per day. They use the recipe from owners Rick Therrien and Greg Costigan. “It has been a success all these years,” Dubin adds.
For Stage’s Steven Goldberg, part of the joy of chicken soup is seeing people’s reactions. From people who have never tried it to chicken soup regulars, he says, he’s happy to see the impact a bowl of soup can have.
“Seeing their faces light up, their hearts rejoice and their spirits soar when they savor soup with a ball of matzah or kreplach or pulled chicken – it is very gratifying,” he explains.
And while trends may change – for example, matzah ball becoming more and more popular as it becomes more familiar outside the Jewish community – chicken soup will always be on the menu.
“It’s not going anywhere, and rightly so,” he says. “It’s delicious and filling, so why not? “