Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peruvian Chicken Soup

It's hard to write anything original about chicken soup.  Everyone loves it, it's the basis for an uncountable number of other recipes, thousands (millions?) of books have been written about it, and its variations are countless.  Have you noticed that almost every general cookbook, and many other specialized ones, provide a recipe for chicken stock?  They're all pretty much the same, save for differences in vegetables depending on the cuisine, so it seems like there is an insatiable urge for cooks to tell you how they prepare chicken stock. 

Well, I'm not getting into that trap today.  Suffice it to say that when one has a 6-qt slow cooker, one can make chicken stock even while one is sleeping...and awaken to a delectable aroma, too. 

This is all by way of setting the stage for one of the most delicious hearty soups I've eaten.  A little Peruvian restaurant in Lee, Alpamayo, makes the best -- really the best -- chicken soup around.  It's thick and filling, and full of vegetables...and chicken.  I do gyrotonics with Megan Reisel, whose studio is two doors from Alpamayo, and now I try to time my sessions there so I can pick up the soup for lunch or dinner after the workout. 

After a while, though, I wondered how to make it for myself.  All I did was type in "Peruvian chicken soup" into the google search box, and immediately found a recipe that's easy and delicous.  What with all this ice and dreary colored snow lining the roads, surely this is the time of year to enjoy the comforting heartiness of this delicious soup.  Here's how you can make it for yourself.

Arcadian Take on Peruvian Chicken Soup
2 whole chicken breasts or the equivalent in chicken thighs*
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
3 T chopped chile pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large bunch of cilantro, washed and dried with leaves stripped from stems
5-6 c chicken stock
1 medium bag frozen peas
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" pieces
1 1/2 c raw rice to be cooked
S&P to taste
Cilantro for garnish

Place the cilantro in a blender or food processor with ½ cup of the chicken broth and process until smooth. Set aside.

Cut each chicken breast half into 3-4 pieces. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté chicken pieces just until lightly browned on all sides. Remove chicken to a plate, slice into bite-size pieces, and set aside.

Add the chopped onion, chile pepper, and minced garlic to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.

Add the processed cilantro and at least 4 c of the chicken stock. Add the carrots and simmer until just tender.

Cook raw rice with sufficient water, when done, add to soup.

Add the chicken pieces and the peas and simmer. Check the chicken pieces for doneness. At this point, may need to add rest of chicken stock. When chicken is done, remove soup pan from heat.

Garnish with fresh cilantro.

P.S.  The recipe I copied called for diced potatoes.  I didn't want them, but if you do, throw 'em in. The soup at Alpamayo sports green beans, which I choose not to include.  I guess the idea is to use the vegetables you like.  Seems sensible.
*After posting this recipe, two excellent cooks--Joyce Bernstein and John Cheek--advocated chicken thighs on the grounds that they're juicier and tastier than chicken breasts.  Agreed.  So now you know.

No comments:

Post a Comment