Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cold, Frigid, Chillly, Soup, Soup, Soup!

Way back in September 2002, a family of five arrived in Columbus, Ohio, ready to settle down in a new town. They didn't know anyone, and the university family housing apartment they wanted to move into was not yet available. They were put on a long waiting list, and were told that the apartment would be available sometime in October. So they decided to find a temporary place until they could move into their new humble abode. Intown Suites, an extended stay, replete with a kitchenette was where they checked into and stayed until an apartment in the University Family Housing was available, alhamdulillah, a week later, way before October, sooner than expected.

We are that family. No longer a family of five, mind you, but a family of seven minus one, and we're still living in that humble abode. Been here for more than six years now, alhamdulillah.

But what does that have to do with the chicken soup in this post?

Well, it was at that kitchenette that I came up with this dish. I had a few dry ground spices, oil, raw chicken, and the usual onion and garlic. I wanted to make chicken soup, like here, but I thought I'd give it a new twist instead. So, I slathered the chicken pieces with the oily paste I concocted from the spices and oil I had on hand, and fried them. Then I proceeded to make the chicken soup as usual, except this time, I dunked in these fried chicken into the soup. The resulting soup was one that was pregnant with aromatic coriander and cumin specks floating in a thin clear steaming soup.

Suffice it to say, I was exhilarated with this new dish, whipped up mostly out of boredom and an intense need to settle down. This chicken soup has undergone a lot of changes throughout the years. This is the one I've carefully measured and noted down the ingredients for, and to this day, it is still unnamed. I suppose I'll call it the 'Unnamed Chicken Soup' until I come up with a good name for it (which might be never).

Unnamed Chicken Soup

Combine to make a wet paste:
2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoon olive oil

10 chicken drumsticks/ equivalent of chicken parts, bone in

1 -3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 medium - large onion, finely minced
4- 5 cloves garlic, finely minced or finely pounded
1-2 inch ginger, finely minced or finely pounded
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, broken
3 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods

4 medium carrots, thickly sliced/ 1 1/2 cups thickly sliced carrots
4 small-medium sized potatoes quartered
1 large round tomato, quartered
12 cups water
1 bunch vermicelli bean thread
1 cup roughly chopped parsley
salt to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Line a pan with aluminum foil and brush with about 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
  3. Arrange chicken drumsticks/chicken parts on lined pan, and brush with wet paste until generously covered with it
  4. Bake uncovered until juices run clear/chicken are done
  5. Meanwhile, heat 1 -3 tablespoons canola oil and toss in onion, garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom pods
  6. Saute until fragrant, about 2 -3 minutes, to coax the flavor of the onions, garlic and ginger out
  7. Pour in the 12 cups of water and bring to boil
  8. Dunk in the potatoes and carrots, immediately followed by the baked chicken pieces. (Soup will turn from crystal clear to brownish clear). Leave bubbling for 2 -3 minutes
  9. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are fairly soft/done
  10. Throw in a bunch of vermicelli bean thread and quartered tomato, keep heat on low
  11. Salt to taste
  12. Garnish with chopped parsley
  13. Serve steaming hot in bowls with no accompaniments or with hot white rice

Serves 5 - 6 (with second helpings)

Cook's notes:

  • Instead of frying the chicken, I bake them uncovered instead. It's inshaallah healthier and more merciful to the surface on your stove. Translation: less clean up! (Always a good thing)
  • You can garnish with sliced green onions as well
  • You can experiment with your own spice combination to make the wet paste
  • You can also omit the vermicelli bean thread if you don't have it. It merely adds more texture and interesting content to the soup; floating transparent strands of soft vermicelli
  • Eggy variations:
  • Egg Strand: If you wish, you can add a beaten egg to the soup to produce a soup with strands of egg whites swimming amidst the many schools of vegetables and poultry
  • To do so, beat one egg lightly and pour into the soup at Step 10, Stir soup to create the strands of cooked egg
  • Poached Eggs: If you wish, you can also poach eggs directly in the soup, resulting in the addition of floating eggs as your additional source of protein.
  • To do this, crack the desired amount of eggs into a bowl, and gently slide them into the soup one by one, 1 -3 minutes apart, in Step 8. Do NOT stir soup. Eggs will cook.
  • This soup can be eaten alone, with white rice, or with noodles.

This soup is a welcome dish to ward off the chilly and somewhat gloomy aspect of winter in temperate climates. To have a continuous flow of hot soup laden with aromatic spices trickle merrily down your throat, sending much needed warmth to your almost frostbitten extremities ... has to be heavenly


  1. let see!! what about 5-spices chicken soup? or may be Juli fried chicken soup? hihihihihi..

    I love chicken soup , very quick and simple to make esp for the beginner, right Kakjuli? :D


  2. I want this NOW!! Gosh I hope we have chicken in the freezer... I've never made chicken soup so this will come in VERY handy!! Thanks Juli


  3. 5 spices chicken soup! hmm.....Juli fried chicken soup noo LOL..

    yup..very simple and it's comfort food....

    bintaadam..so did you try it?