Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chicken Soup with Rice and Vegetables

This is a Romanian recipe, in fact it was passed down from my mother. It is really simple to make it, though getting the final taste to be just perfect it is quite hard to accomplish, and it has taken me years to get it just the way my mom used to make it. 

In Romania there are two kinds of soups. One type, called supa, is clear and typically has noodles or dumplings in it. The second type, called ciorba, is a sour soup because it features whey (the watery part that separates out from homemade yogurt), sour cream, lemon juice, and/or what Romanians call "borsch" (made from fermented bran), any or all of which give the soup a slight tangy taste that makes it quite distinct from the other kind of soup in terms of its flavor. Indeed, this distinctive element of Romanian soups earned them a mention in a book on the best soups in the world.

The soup in the picture is the latter kind, you'll be pleased to hear, and you can make it without needed to ferment bran. Lots of Romanian cooks nowadays opt for alternatives to the really old-fashioned way of doing this. But my recipe will get you as close to that traditional Romanian flavor as it is possible to get while still using readily available ingredients. 

Ingredients (for about 6 servings): 

1 lb split chicken breast (on the bone)
2 small carrots (or 1 large carrot)
4 celery sticks 
1 small onion
1 Tbs. salt 
2 Tbs. of rice
2-3 Tbs. lemon juice
2-3 Tbs. sauerkraut juice
6-7 cups (1 1/2 -2 l) of water
Parsley, finely chopped

Take the skin off from the chicken breast and place the chicken in a big pot. Pour the water and the salt over the chicken. Turn the heat on high. Separately chop the onion, celery and the carrots with the food processor and put them into the pot when the water is boiling. Add the rice too and stir. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about an hour. Add more water if it is necessary, to keep it at roughly the same level during the time when it is boiling. You can use a pressure cooker if you have one and let it boil for only 20 minutes. When the soup is cooked, take the lid off, take the chicken out (try and get it out in one piece if you can), then add the sauerkraut juice, lemon juice, and parsley, and let it boil one more minute. When the chicken is cold enough, take it from the bones and put it back in the soup in small, bite-sized pieces. Serve it with a dollop of sour cream in it. 

Makes about 6 servings. The soup can safely be kept in the fridge for several days.

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