soup - chicken, chicken soup, Cuban style
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Here is one of my favourite chicken soup recipes. This version is how my father likes it and the second, 'Mama's Chicken Soup' is how my mother's side of the family cooks it. My father called it 'European' style, which most likely it is - variations of which can be found throughout central Europe. Serving one or the other depends on my mood, or which parent has a cold and needs a good chicken soup made with love!
Have a look at the Food Bytes section for a related article and more tips: Chicken Soup - Culinary Poetry and Its Secrets
Sopa de Pollo (Cuban Style Chicken Soup)
is a simple version as some families add other ingredients such as plantanos or
yucca, both Caribbean produce. Still others add a Creole touch to
how we enjoyed in southern Florida and how my father still makes it. Rich and
yellow, it must be served with a thick wedge of lemon. Often it was the
first course to the Sunday dinner or served as a quick and light lunch.
about 8 generous servings
My greatest complement for this was when a Jewish lady asked for my recipe (chicken soup has wondrous powers in the Jewish tradition. Every Jewish Mama knows it cures almost everything from the common cold to a broken heart!!). This is almost exactly as my father still makes it.
chicken (not a stewing chicken)
2 1/2 liters of water*
1 1/2 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 t. salt
8 pepper corns, crushed
large bay leaf or 2 small
1/2 package of “Saizon Goya” (a US product found in Cuban/Puerto Rican food shops, however be aware it contains MSG)
1/4 t. cumin powder
t. dried oregano
powdered food colouring to give a golden colour or several saffron strands soaked in hot water for several minutes
1 T. minced fresh coriander
1 lemon cut into quarters
1 medium carrot
fine soup noodles
*Or enough to cover the chicken by the length of your middle finger plus about a third of the pot to allow for cooking.
Cut up chicken into pieces (separate thigh from leg as well) and remove the skin. Place into cold water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour. Skim off any foam, if you prefer. Add finely chopped onion and the chopped garlic as well as the bay leaf, seasonings, salt and the pepper corns.
heat and continue simmering until the chicken is tender, approximately
1 to 1-1/2 hours or until meat loosens from the bone easily. If using the carrot, chop into bite sized pieces and add during the last
Remove the chicken to a large cutting board and debone the meat using 2 forks. Cut into bite sized pieces. Use approximately 2 T. of chicken per serving, reserving the rest for another dish!
(If you intend to use all of the soup, add the noodles
after removing the chicken and time according to package directions.
Allow approximately 1 T. uncooked noodles per serving.)
Serve with lemon quarters on the side to be squeezed over the soup and a sprinkling of parsley or fresh cilantro!
The soup will have a golden yellow colour due to the saffron, colouring or the Saizon Goya, any of which you can find in a Spanish grocery store. Indian stores usually have some kind of powdered food colouring for their rice or sweet dishes. (Do not use yellow food colouring drops or turmeric.) If you have difficulty finding the coriander leaves, try an Asian or Indian grocery store. The leaves are very pungent, so use sparingly.
Tip: If you intend to save part of the soup as a broth base for other recipes, cook the noodles separately in salted water to which you have added vegetable or chicken broth and add as needed per serving. Refrigerate the remaining broth for several hours. Skim off fat and discard.
Note: Don’t consider using a stewing chicken, which is the bird of choice for a chicken stock. Those tough old birds take forever to cook until tender and the resulting broth and meat is a disappointment (stocks are usually reduced by a fourth to a third to concentrate flavours). For a really delicious version, replace at least 50% of the water with chicken stock.
This was always the appetizer before the main course on Sundays when I was growing up. The main course was usually 'Arroz con Pollo' (Rice with Chicken) which I dearly love. Sometimes we enjoyed the soup with rice instead of noodles when the main course was another kind of meat dish served with yucca or malanga (potatoes were seldom, rice being the favoured starch).
Today I make this soup frequently and on any day of the week!
All recipes are excerpts from "Welcome to My Kitchen" - The Epicurean Table and are copyright of the author. Recipes are not to be
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The Epicurean Table © 1999-2002 Patricia Conant