Savory Chicken Soup with Greek Yogurt + Bread with Spicy Herb Butter
May 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
E: And so it is that my undergraduate thesis is basically finished, and has been presented to all the necessary persons. That’s not to say I don’t have quite a bit left to do before this year is over, but it means that the bulk of that-which-must-be-done-immediately is in fact complete, and so I will be back to posting more regularly. It is a relief to have that project off my back, but it just makes this whole graduation thing all the more surreal. I started my thesis almost a year ago, and it has occupied much of my attention, if not always my actual time, since then. I learned a lot in the process, and there’s much more I would do if I had the time, but I just did not expect to be “done” so soon.
So back to food, as I’m sure that’s why you’ve come. This one has been sitting on my computer for several months now (the recipe and pictures, not, thank goodness, the actual food), waiting for a time when I felt I could actually write it up and do it justice. And that time is now. I came up with this recipe as a modification of the French blended soup recipe we made a while ago. I wanted to take those flavors to the next level of complexity, and give it some aesthetic touches so it doesn’t just look like a bowl of blended stuff. It had been a while since I’d made anything with yogurt sauce, so I decided to go in a Greek direction (I’m pretty sure this soup would be delicious with lamb instead of chicken, if you wanted to try something different). Instead of serving soup and a side, I decided to put the side in the soup: a dollop of cool Greek yogurt sauce right in the middle. The slightly-spicy savory warmth of the soup contrasts beautifully with the cool, crisp cucumber and creamy yogurt. With some toasted bread and herb butter, I think it makes a delicious and complex meal, and I’d make it for just about anyone who likes soup and yogurt separately.
1 large onion, sliced (yellow or sweet)
4 red potatoes, cubed
5 carrots, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 fillets of chicken, cubed
1/3 c. fresh parsley, minced
1 tbsp. fresh mint, minced, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, cubed
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 quart chicken broth
3 dried arbol peppers
4 dried pasilla peppers (you can use any dried peppers really, but different ones will have different flavors)
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
So start by cutting up the vegetables. Slice the onions, wash and chop the potatoes (I usually leave the skins on), peel and chop the carrots, and mince the garlic.
Add the olive oil to a large pot, and heat it on medium. When the oil is hot, add the onions, and cook those until they soften and start to turn a translucent golden color. Wash the mint, parsley, and chicken, and slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces. When the onions are ready, add the garlic, saute for a minute or two, and then add the potato and chicken to the pot.
You might have to add a little more olive oil to get everything covered and to keep it from sticking. Saute this for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and get working on the yogurt sauce. Prepare the cucumber by peeling and de-seeding it, and cutting it into small cubes.
Chop the parsley and separate it into two equally-sized piles. Also chop up the mint. Then mix up half the parsley, all the mint, the cucumber, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cumin (half of what the recipe calls for) in a bowl with the yogurt.
Put the yogurt sauce in the fridge so it stays cold. It’ll keep for a few days too, if you don’t use it all right away. By now the chicken and potato should be partially cooked, looking like this:
Add the carrots, chicken stock, and the chilies, and heat everything to a simmer.
Cover and let cook, on low, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken and potatoes are done. Don’t stir it up too much if you don’t want to lose track of the dried chilies. You can pick them out before blending if you want the soup to be milder, or leave them in if you would really like some heat in it.
When the soup is cooked, take out the chilies if you want. Toss in the rest of the parsley, cumin (1/2 tsp), nutmeg, sage, and coriander (you can add some chili flakes here if you didn’t have dried chilies, or want even more spiciness).
Now you need to blend this. I removed it to a glass bowl (so I didn’t scratch the nonstick finish on the pot) and used an immersion blender. As an added precaution, I first lowered the bowl into my sink. It made cleanup a cinch. You can also blend this in batches in a blender, if that’s what you have.
Somewhere in the process, salt the soup to taste (I used about 2 tsp salt). Let it cool for a few minutes, and serve as described below, possibly with some:
Bread with Spicy Herb Butter
Ok people, this is a great thing for parties as well as general meals. It is tasty, and despite being about the easiest thing ever, is really impressive to people who don’t know that it took you less than 5 minutes to make. I don’t know why it is, but people associate herb butter with fancy restaurants, despite the fact that they could make it themselves in less time than it would take to call up and reserve a table.
Basics, folks, basics:
2 tbsp butter
Cut up some bread. Toast it. Hard huh?
While that’s going on, take about 2 tbsp butter. You’ll want it soft, so if it has been in the fridge, microwave it quickly. Add what looks like a good amount of whatever herbs you’d like. For people who like numbers and specifics, I used about 1/2 tsp of herbes de Provence and 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes to give it a surprising kick. Take a fork, and mash the herbs into it. Serve with bread. Done. This was a big hit, especially the red pepper, and I’ll be making it again.
When your soup has cooled a little, ladle it into bowls. Right before serving, put a good-sized spoonful of yogurt sauce right in the center, garnish with a sprig of mint and some wedges of cucumber. Enjoy!