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Chicken Soup is one of those comfort foods that has no borders, and traditional Mexican cooks have a special place for it, too. I know everyone has their own way of preparing it, and their particular choice of vegetables or herbs to cook it with, but in the end it’s a simple soup that can warm you up during a cold day or make you feel better when you’re sick. After all, there is nothing more satisfying than a bowl of homemade chicken soup when you are under the weather.
Many regional cooks in Mexico use cilantro or flat parsley in their chicken soup, but some homemakers in the southern states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Veracruz use an herb called
“culantro”. It is also called “cilantro” or “perejil ranchero” among other many names for their chicken soups. This herb has a similar flavor to the common cilantro but a little bit stronger. I really like the aroma and flavor it gives to the Chicken Soup, it remains me of the small markets in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, where there was this lady that used to sell herbs right at the main entrance of the market and the culantro was always the welcoming aroma. If you ever find it at the Latin Store, stop by and smell it, or better yet, buy it to use in your next chicken soup. Since it has a stronger aroma, a couple of leaves are enough to flavor a soup.
|Culantro, Cilantro or Perejil Ranchero. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org|
- 1 whole chicken (About 3-4 pounds), cut out in pieces *See Notes
- 8 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 white onion
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 Celery branches
- 3 Large carrots, cut into 3 pieces each
- 2 Cilantro branches
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 lime, cut in wedges
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced
- 2 Cilantro branches, chopped
- Cooked white rice (optional)
- Warm corn tortillas
- * Sometimes I make 1/2 a chicken, or only use chicken legs, thighs, ribs and wings since those parts render a flavorful broth.
- ** You can also add other vegetables to your soup like zucchini, chayotes, green beans and potatoes.
- * All the garnishes are optional, but it does taste heavenly with all of them.
1.Place chicken, water and salt into a large stock pot and at medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once foam starts forming on the surface, skim and discard.
2. After removing the foam, add the onion, garlic and celery. Partially cover the pot. Turn heat down and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. Do not boil.
3. Add the carrots, cilantro and if you are using other vegetables, add them 15 minutes later since carrots take longer to cook. Check the chicken for doneness and, once cooked, remove and set aside to cool.
4. Keep simmering the broth for about 10 more minutes until carrots are completely cooked.
5. When the chicken pieces have cooled, shred it or cut into small bite-sized pieces. Dice the carrots once they are cooked and set aside.
6. Strain the broth using a large fine mesh strainer. Return the broth to the pot and let it settle for about 8-10 minutes, remove the fat that rises to the surfaces using a large spoon. If you are not using the broth right away you can skim off the fat after placing the broth for some time in the fridge.
7. Turn the heat on to low to warm up and check if it needs more salt to your taste. When ready to serve, place some cooked rice (if using), a serving of shredded chicken, carrots, and stir in the warm broth. Let everyone garnish their own soup.