Penelope’s Chicken Soup

I don’t know about you, but we are in full holiday mode over here in Dubai. We spent Christmas with our family and friends which was wonderful.  More family arriving over the next days. Bring it on! As mentioned in an earlier post, I did cook for an army and now we have a freezer full of Christmas leftovers that will be thoroughly devoured over the next few days. I’m certain of it.

It is actually the first Christmas I spent in Dubai since I ever moved here. It is indeed very festive and Christmasy. While the weather has been beautiful the last few days, we have had some fog this week. Every day, the fog sets in the evening, getting thicker by the hour, and goes away the next morning.

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I really enjoy this. It’s like a cottony veil that starts spreading down softly. Quite slowly going over the fence, creeping into the back yard, covering everything around you.

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Almost getting into the house through the door screens. Wandering around your own garden, cutting through the fog, you barely recognize anything. This unfamiliarity of your own back yard, presents a mystery.

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This mysterious veil unfolds from one end to the other, making you feel like your visual senses are cheating on you. There is a certain magic about it that goes hand in hand with Christmas. It makes you want to satisfy your senses with something warm and cozy. That’s when I decided to make Chicken Soup. You see for me cooking and eating is about the experience that’s bestowed upon you while you delve into this journey.  Chicken soup warms you up and brings you right at home, especially on a night like this.

To make it I used a 6.7 lt / 7 Qt Dutch Oven (11.02 inch or 28 cm diameter). Fill it up with 3 liters (abt 3.2 qts)  of water and bring to boil. I used two small chickens on this occasion (around 2 kg/ 4.4 lbs).

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Cut them in pieces and boil them for 30 mins or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Take the chicken out of the broth and set aside. I like filtering the broth through a sieve to get rid of all the impurities.

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Put the broth back in the dutch oven and 1 lt  (1.05 qt) of water and bring to boil again. Then add the chopped onions, carrots and celery.

Take one whole onion, clean the outside leaves and cut the edges. Pierce several toothpicks around it. Insert them diagonally into the center. I like to do that because, I want my broth to have a more “onionny” taste but I don’t want to overload it with chopped onion. Your choice. Stick the toothpicks into the onion to hold it together so it doesn’t go loose into the broth. Make sure the toothpicks are tight, you want them on the onion and not in the soup. Alternatively, you can use a cheese cloth.

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Then take a whole apple and orange (Yes I said apple and orange). Wash them thoroughly and pierce them several times with a fork. Just like so.

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The amount of flavour that they unpack in the broth is unbelievable. Trust me on this. It balances so well. In the pot they also go.

Next add the rice and orzo pasta and let the soup simmer for 25-35 mins or until the rice and pasta are cooked to your taste. Halfway through the simmering add one more ltr/1.05 qt of water or less if you prefer a less brothy soup.

When the chicken has cooled down peel off the fat and discard it. Clean the meat off the bone and cut in bite-size pieces.

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When the soup is ready take it off the stove and stir in the chicken meat.

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Before serving, remove the apple and orange and the “toothpicked” onion. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top. Delicious!

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Serves 8-10

Time: preparation 15 mins, cooking 1 hr – 1 hr 10 mins

INGREDIENTS

3 lt (3.2 qts) water plus 2 more ltrs (2.1 qts)

2 small chickens about 2 kgs (4.4 lbs), cut in pieces

2 big carrots (200 g / abt 7 oz), chopped

3 big celery sticks (200 g / abt 7 oz), chopped

1 big onion, chopped, plus one more  whole onion, cleaned and edges cut

1 apple and 1 orange, pierced with fork

2 tbsps of rice

2 tbsps of orzo pasta

half a bunch of cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

Fill up a Dutch oven with 3 ltrs (abt 3.2 qts)  of water and bring to boil. Cut chicken in pieces and boil them for 30 mins or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Take the chicken out of the broth and set aside. Filter the broth through a sieve to get rid of all the impurities.

Put the broth back in the dutch oven and 1 lt  (1.05 qt) of water and bring to boil again. Then add the chopped onions, carrots and celery.

Take one whole onion, clean the outside leaves and cut the edges. Pierce several toothpicks around it. Insert them diagonally into the center. Stick the toothpicks into the onion to hold it together so it doesn’t go loose into the broth. Make sure the toothpicks are tight, you want them on the onion and not in the soup. Alternatively, you can use a cheese cloth.

Take a whole apple and orange (Yes I said apple and orange). Wash them thoroughly and pierce them several times with a fork.They add a lot of flavor to the soup. Put them in the pot.

Next add the rice and orzo pasta and let the soup simmer for 25-35 mins or until the rice and pasta are cooked to your taste. Halfway through the simmering add one more ltr/1.05 qt of water or less if you prefer a less brothy soup. When the chicken has cooled down peel off the fat and discard it. Clean the meat off the bone and cut in bite-size pieces. When the soup is ready take it off the stove and stir in the chicken meat. Before serving, remove the apple and orange and the “toothpicked” onion. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top. Delicious!

 

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