Chicken soup is a great old home remedy. Like my mother and my grandmother and many others before them, I strongly believe that chicken soup can help ease cold and flu symptoms. And on top of its “healing” anti-inflammatory properties (it can clear nasal congestion and ease sore throat), it is really delicious. I don’t only cook it when someone is sick in my family; I make it very often on cold autumn and winter days.
I like to prepare the soup with a whole free-range chicken, but you can also use chicken pieces instead. The way I clean the chicken before cooking it doesn’t appeal to all my students in the cooking courses. They don’t understand why, after removing excess skin and fat around the neck and tail, I need to wash the chicken inside out with cold water. After that I generously rub it with salt and half a lemon and wash it again. Finally, I rub the chicken with salt and other spices depending on the recipe. I explain that we need to do that to get rid of rank odour. Then I remind them about the hygiene when preparing raw chicken; hands, all kitchen utensils and surfaces need to be thoroughly washed with hot water and soap before using or touching any other utensils or ingredients. Although this should go without saying, my teaching experience has taught me otherwise! Better safe than sorry is my motto, and I am never tired of repeating instructions each lesson.
Now back to our chicken soup. You can also add a handful of broken vermicelli to cook with the rice and carrots, and if you like a nutty kick, just garnish your bowl with some roasted pine nuts.
Shorbet Djaj – Chicken Soup
- 1200-1400 g free-range chicken
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Half of a lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 litres cold water
- 1 medium onion peeled
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cardamom pods
- 2 bay leaves
- 200 g rice rinsed and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
- 100 g carrots peeled, rinsed and finely chopped
- 11/2 teaspoons salt ¼ teaspoon cinnamon to season
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper optional
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
- Lemon juice
- Remove excess skin and fat from the chicken (around the neck and tail). Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water over a colander. Sprinkle the chicken with the 2 teaspoons salt and rub inside and out with the half lemon. Then wash it again with cold water. Finally rub the chicken with the teaspoon salt.
- Add the chicken and the water to a large pot, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim the foam from the surface with a slotted spoon. Add the onion, the cinnamon stick, the cardamom pods and the bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for about 1 hour.
- Discard the onion, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and bay leaves. Remove the chicken and place on a plate. Skin chicken, debone and cut or tear the meat into bite-sized pieces. Pour the chicken stock into a clean big pot and keep warm.
- Add chicken pieces to the stock in the clean pot, add the drained rice and the carrots, season with the salt and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until the rice is done.
- Stir in the parsley and serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon.