Yeah, yeah, your grandmother’s chicken soup. I know. It was the best. Could raise the dead, in fact.
Well this chicken soup may not be your grandmother’s, or even your mother-in-law’s. It may not be complex, may not feature a rich and dense stock, may not have anything at all fancy about it. But if you want to just throw a bunch of things in a pot and end up with a soothing, yummy, cure-all of a soup in less than a half hour, I think you will like my soup a whole lot. It’s a typical Puerto Rican and, apparently Aruban, style of soup prep.
Important note: in this soup, my herbs were the first recao (culantro) I was able to harvest from the seeds I brought from Puerto Rico. You do not need them to make this soup – choose whatever you most like in the green herby kingdom – but I want to share with you my satisfaction at growing, on my stoop, one of the most distinctive elements of Puerto Rican cuisine. Eryngium foetidum – also known as recao, culantro and sawtooth coriander — is something that smells delicious in the rain, that tastes similar to cilantro, but is less citric and a bit deeper.
I grew it at my grandmother’s house in Mayagüez from seeds from my great-aunt Amida, but have struggled to get it to grow here on Long Island. Thanks to a mad-humid summer, it has flourished in a container and I am very happy not to have to buy it already cut and fading in flavor from the local Latin grocery that gets it from Costa Rica. ¡¡¡¡TRIUNFO!!!
No-Fuss Chicken Noodle Soup (amounts of vegetables are flexible)
2 quarts water (with a stock cube) or stock (or a mix of the two)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper (preferably cubanelle or Italian cooking pepper), chopped
1 lb chicken breast (or boneless thighs), in 1’ cubes
1 Tbs herbs of your choice, chopped (especially culantro/recao/sawtooth cilantro)
Handful of soup noodles (fideos)
Salt to taste
Bin a large stockpot, bring water/stock to a boil. Add remaining ingredients, except noodles and salt. Return to boil. Lower heat to a lively simmer for at least 20 minutes. The longer you have the more tender the chicken. Add noodles five minutes before you finish simmering. Salt to taste and serve. I recommend adding hot sauce, like sriracha, to taste!