I had one chicken. I had to make it count. I wanted it to not only taste good but I wanted it to be a balm for all the ills out there at the moment. Chicken soup for the soul in the most desperate way. Chicken soup to fill a dull ache in the heart. To soothe an anxious pulse or pat a sweat dripped brow. In short, I was expecting a lot of this humble chicken. Enter Caldo de Fandango del Valle or Oaxacan Chicken Soup for the soul.
I realise a whole chicken is like gold to many people at the moment. Meat supplies have dwindled at supermarkets and you may occasionally find a pack of beef, usually the more expensive cuts. But chicken? Forget it, that's a hot commodity.
So I know that many of you don't have a whole chicken in which case you can use turkey too which seems to be more easily available or really any meat in this will do or tinned/dried and soaked vegetables. We only have a regular sized fridge freezer so stockpiling meat isn't feasible so I totally get having to substitute things.
Meats: use chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken where it will save time cutting it up. You can also use pork bones or meaty soup bones.
Vegetables: Add other chunky vegetables for flavour-celery, sweet potato or potato also works. If you don't have tinned tomatoes, blend ripe fresh tomatoes in a food processor and season with salt and pepper and a tablespoon of oil. Bread and rice: Don't have bread? Try blending the cup of chicken stock with white cannellini beans for a creamy base and then adding the rest of the tin into the soup! Don't have rice? Use millet or barley or just keep it as a clear broth.
With this precious whole chicken I leafed through one of my favourite cookbooks Oaxaca by Bricia Lopez. It fell open to a bookmark for a chicken soup or Caldo de Fandango del Valle that had caught my eye months ago. It was simple and I learned through making her other dish of Oregano chicken that flavours of garlic, cumin, lime and black pepper go so well together. I made a few edits, quite a few so that I can't say that it is necessarily an Oaxacan chicken soup in authenticity but I don't think I strayed too far in terms of flavours. But please make this as it's so comforting and delicious and goes a long way.
I invited my friend Ivy over for it. She and I have been very diligent in making sure that we socially isolate and formed our own quarantine club with Mr NQN. That's when a group of friends or family who are fastidious in making sure that they are socially isolated get to hang out and have fun together (although now we're just staying at our respective homes and video skyping each other). We ate it with both our doggies beseeching us with large saucer eyes for a taste of this wonderfully spicy and full flavoured chicken soup. Chicken soup was never the same again and really neither is life.
So tell me Dear Reader, how are you going? Are you ok?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Oaxacan Chicken Soup or Caldo de Fandango del Valle
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott adapted from Oaxaca by Bricia Lopez
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Note: this soup lasted us for many meals because of the rice and the soup. To make it last longer cut the chicken into six pieces or eight pieces
- 2.5 litres/10.5 cups water
- 3 tablespoons salt or chicken stock powder
- 1/2 onion
- 1 carrot, cut into inch pieces
- 1 chicken or chicken pieces (around 1.5 kgs as long as it can fit in a pot)
- 1 slice bread (I use rye, any type will do)
- 2/3 cup rice
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 400g/14ozs. tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chilli salsa (I used Mrs Renfro's Ghost Pepper Salsa)
- Limes and avocado to serve
My broth almost runneth over!
Step 1 - Add water to a very large pot and bring to a boil. Add salt or stock powder, 1/2 onion, carrot and chicken (I couldn't fit all of the liquid and the chicken in my pot so I set the stock aside to add in once the water evaporated). Bring to a boil and simmer with the lid on for 60 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Cut the chicken into pieces with sharp poultry scissors. Add the rice and place the lid back on and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom.
Using the stubborn hard ends of a rye loaf
Step 2 - Take 1 cup of the broth and soak the bread in it for a minute. Then puree the bread and broth using a stick blender (do not use a regular blender if it is hot as the mixture will go everywhere). Add the puree to the soup pot.
Blended rye looks like pate
Step 3 - In a small saucepan add the oil and then the onion and garlic and sweat down until soft. Add the oregano, cumin, black pepper and cloves and saute for another minute. Then add the tomatoes and chilli sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour this into the soup pot. You can add the chicken back into the soup or just serve the soup with a piece of chicken in it. Serve with limes and avocado if you have them.