Saturday, June 6, 2009

Spring Chickens Soup

My friend Maria and I are no spring chickens, although she still looks like one. She is petite and pretty with a blonde pageboy and long black lashes, a cute up tilted nose and a ready laugh. She's a girly girl, always stylishly dressed. Her husband calls her Chica; it suits her.

We got talking the other day about recipes and she mentioned a dish that her family begs her to make from time to time, a recipe from her homeland, Chile, called cazuelas. I found myself getting hungry as she described the soup made with chicken thighs and fresh vegetables, all swimming in a light paprika/garlic/onion broth so I begged, too, for the recipe.

I looked up "cazuelas" on the interwebs, hoping to flesh out the recipe she told to me, but it seems the term refers to earthenware cookware in Spain so I could find no additional information about the Chilean soup. Here's what I made by following her directions. It was surprisingly flavorful given the amount of time it took, under an hour from ingredients to greedy slurping, and I'm not a very fast chopper. I tend to dream along when prepping ingredients, musing that Cookiecrumb would probably recommend steeping the pea pods in the soup (which I did), wondering if two cloves of garlic would be better than one (decided it was), mentally trying out camera angles for the blog photo, and planning the order in which I would add all these things to the soup. Even with all that going on, it is a quick preparation.

The recipe is for two but you can make this for any amount of people; just add another chicken thigh and a serving of each of the veggies for each additional person. Maria says you can vary the ingredients, too, depending on the season, and she has even made it with other meats. Cazuelas is the only dish I can recall where you need all the dining utensils, plus fingers, to eat. With all the spring vegetables in it, you'll want to get every drop.

Cazuelas รก la Spring Chicken (or is that Spring Chica?)

2 Chicken thighs with bones and skin intact
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tablespoon mild paprika (or more, to taste)
1 ear of corn on the cob, cut into quarters
4 small red potatoes
2 small carrots, sliced
15-20 fresh English peas, shelled and pea pods reserved
10 green beans, sliced into bite-size pieces
Fresh cilantro* (I just remembered that Maria mentioned cilantro, too. Chop and add if you like - to me it tastes like soap so I probably repressed the memory!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chicken thighs in olive oil in a large soup pot. Add minced garlic, chopped onion and sliced carrot to soften. When soft, add paprika and cook briefly until the paprika is giving off a nice scent, then add potatoes, the pea pods (keep the peas themselves for later addition) and water to cover, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Remove the pea pods and discard. Add fresh vegetables (peas, corn quarters and green beans) and continue to simmer until veggies are tender. Serve in bowls with a chicken thigh, a potato or two, a piece of corn, some of the veggies and a generous helping of broth.

*Later: I checked out the websites that NamasteNancy left in the comments section and this version is very similar to those, although those mentioned somewhat different herbs (oregano instead of cilantro, for example) and usually it contains a piece of orange squash, too. I'll have to try it again in the fall when the squashes are a their best.

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Blogger Anna Haight said...

Hi Zoomie, back catching up on about a month of your fun posts! I love these kind of recipes where they are so authentic you can't even find them on the net!

Saturday, June 06, 2009  
Blogger namastenancy said...

That soups sounds utterly delicious - if I were there, I'd be begging along with the rest of the crew for more, more, more. I did find a few links with some background but I doubt if anybody can do it better than you:

Saturday, June 06, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Wow, if you forget the name of the dish, it looks just like North American food... in a bowl of broth. What's not to like?
Were you happy with the pod-infused broth?

Saturday, June 06, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Anna, welcome back. Glad you're feeling well enough to be surfing the net once again.

Nancy, thanks for the links! I'll check them out once the block party is over.

Cookiecrumb, makes sense, really, as they are American, too - and the corn and spuds originated down there. Actually this reminded me of a very traditional dish I had in Austria - and Maria's heritage is German. Yes, I think the pea pods added a little je ne sais quoi to the broth.

Saturday, June 06, 2009  

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