It’s summertime, but it doesn’t matter. This week I got sick anyway. It started as a sore throat and then moved into my chest. All I wanted was for someone to take care of me, but when you’re the Mamá, you have to take care of yourself.
(Someone suggested I ask Suegra to take care of me. Muy chistoso. While I was sick she was making Sopa de Pescado for herself, and I was just thankful that my nose was partially stuffed up.)
I decided it was time to make Sopa de Pollo. I’ve tried a few different recipes but my favorite is the one below. This recipe is from the Bolivian grandmother of my nephew. She’s of no direct relation to me, but I met her a handful of times, and one of those times I tried her Sopa de Pollo and begged for the recipe, which she graciously shared.
I say that she “graciously shared”, because some women are not so gracious. At the party of a friend of a friend, (who knows how I even got invited, since I didn’t know the hosts personally), I was given a styrofoam plate filled with food upon arrival, as is expected at all Latino-hosted parties. Well, the chicken was absolutely delicious. I can’t remember all these years later what was so fantastic about it, but I found my way to the kitchen to compliment the woman who had made the food. She accepted my compliment with a big smile. When I asked for the recipe though, the smile disappeared from her face and she shook her head. Um, okay. Awkward!
Ni modo, this soup is way better.
Monica’s Sopa de Pollo
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, halved
3-4 stalks of celery, leaves included
1-2 laurel (bay) leaves
1 whole turnip, washed (a few radishes works fine, too)
2 carrots peeled
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 pieces of chicken (or 1 whole chicken)
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups of rice
2-3 potatoes (peeled and diced into cubes)
1 cup frozen peas
1 envelope Sazón Goya (Coriander and Annatto variety – package may say “Culantro y Achiote”)
Cover all the first 6 ingredients with about 8-10 cups of hot water and let it get to a boil. When this broth begins to boil, add the chicken, with the skin on. Add chicken broth and 1 envelope of “Sazón Goya” to the original broth.
Note: When I made it this time, I didn’t have Sazón Goya on hand. I just mixed in about 1 teaspoon Goya Adobo, 1 tablespoon achiote molido, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder. It tasted the same in the end and the recipe is very forgiving.
Let the soup begin to boil and then reduce the heat. Let it cook until chicken is separating from the bones. Pass the whole thing through a sieve into another pot. Discard the vegetables, (I eat the carrots), but take all the chicken pieces and rinse them in warm water. Remove the skin and discard. Break the meat in smaller pieces and discard the bones. Set aside.
Note #2: My husband and Suegra prefer that I leave the meat on the bones but I prefer to do it as described above. There are few noises in this world that I hate more than the sound of chupando los huesos. *shiver*
Let the sieved broth start boiling again and then add the rice; let it all boil on low heat for about 12 minutes (until rice is almost cooked). Add the potatoes. Let it begin to boil again and add the chicken back to the soup. Add frozen peas. Add salt and pepper to taste and let the soup boil for about 5 more minutes or until potatoes are cooked. If the broth evaporated considerably, you can add more water or more chicken broth to it. Serve.
(I eat this with crushed Ritz crackers on top.)