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Recipes: Chicken soup from Brazil and Scotland

Canja de Galinha and Cock-a-Leekie to warm your winter weary soul.

Photographs by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.

Brazilian-style chicken and rice soup.

By Adam Ried

Wherever there are chickens, there’s chicken soup. The two here, from Brazil and Scotland, are as revered on their home turf as Grandma’s chicken noodle is here.

Homemade stock is best for chicken soup, but packaged broth works fine, too. If you prefer white meat to the thighs in these recipes, substitute an equal weight of bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves. They cook faster, and you should use broth rather than water to boost the soup’s flavor.

Brazilian-Style Chicken and Rice Soup (Canja de Galinha)

Makes about 3 quarts

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Like any folk recipe, this one varies widely. After trying different combinations, my tasters liked tomatoes but not potatoes, especially because the rice is non-negotiable. I also use the ham I saw in one recipe, which adds both substance and flavor.

2        teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more if needed

2        pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed, rinsed, and dried

Salt and pepper

2        large onions, chopped

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2        bay leaves

2½   quarts low-sodium chicken broth or water

4        medium carrots, scraped and sliced on the bias

2        large celery ribs, sliced on the bias

8        ounces ham steak, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

1         tablespoon pressed or grated garlic (about 5 medium cloves)

1         can (14½ ounces) petite-diced tomatoes, drained

2/3     cup long-grain white rice

½      cup chopped fresh parsley

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, arrange pieces skin side down in the pot, and cook, undisturbed, until skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken and continue to cook, undisturbed, until second side is golden brown, about 5 minutes longer, adjusting heat if the fond threatens to scorch. Transfer chicken to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, remove skin. Pour fat from pot and reserve it.

Return pot to medium heat, add half of the onions and both bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Add the broth or water, skinned thighs, and 1 teaspoon salt, adjust heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, shred it finely (you should have about 3½ cups), and refrigerate until needed. Meanwhile, strain the broth into a large container (you should have about 9 cups), discard the solids, let broth rest for at least 10 minutes, and spoon or swab off as much fat from the surface as possible (see Tip); set broth aside.

Wipe out pot, add reserved chicken fat (and enough vegetable oil to equal 2 teaspoons, if necessary), return it to medium-high heat, and heat until shimmering. Add the remaining onions, carrots, celery, ham, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the broth and tomatoes, adjust the heat to high, and bring to a strong simmer. Add the rice, return to a strong simmer, adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is just tender, about 16 minutes, adding shredded chicken in the last 5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir to mix. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste. Serve at once, drizzling each portion with extra-virgin olive oil.

TIP: PAPER TOWEL DEFATTING

Anthony Tieuli

Paper Towel Defatting I learned this easy method for defatting chicken broth at Cook’s Country: Once it’s cooled long enough for the fat to rise to the top, lay a sheet of paper towel on the surface of the broth. Carefully lift it by the corners, allowing extra liquid to drip back into the broth. Repeat once or twice, if necessary, to remove most of the surface fat.

Scottish-Style Chicken and Leek Soup (Cock-a-Leekie)

Makes about 3 quarts

Cock-a-leekie recipes use either rice or barley; I go with the latter for its chewiness and nutty flavor.

Believe it or not, prunes are a traditional ingredient in this soup. They’re so sweet, however, that I felt they obscured the flavor of the leeks, so I opted out. If you want to try them, I suggest slicing two pitted prunes per serving, ladling a bit of broth over them, and allowing them to rest in the warm broth to soften for about 15 minutes before adding to the soup.

2        teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more if needed

2        pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed, rinsed, and dried

Salt and pepper

2        pounds leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 7 cups)

2        bay leaves

2½   quarts low-sodium chicken broth or water

8        medium sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1½ teaspoons minced fresh leaves

8        medium carrots, scraped and sliced on the bias

2/3     cup hulled barley

½      cup chopped fresh parsley

 

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, arrange pieces skin side down in the pot, and cook, undisturbed, until skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken and continue to cook, undisturbed, until second side is golden brown, about 5 minutes longer, adjusting heat if the fond threatens to scorch. Transfer chicken to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, remove skin. Pour fat from pot and reserve it.

Return pot to medium heat, add 2 cups of the chopped leeks and both bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until leeks are just starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the broth or water, skinned thighs, thyme sprigs, and 1 teaspoon salt, adjust heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, shred it finely (you should have about 3½ cups), and refrigerate until needed. Meanwhile, strain the broth into a large container (you should have about 9 cups), discard the solids, rest broth for at least 10 minutes, and spoon or swab off as much fat from the surface as possible (see Tip); set broth aside.

Wipe out pot, add reserved chicken fat (and enough vegetable oil to equal 2 teaspoons, if necessary), return it to medium-high heat, and heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and minced thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add broth, adjust heat to high, and bring to a strong simmer. Add the barley, remaining 5 cups of leeks, and 1 teaspoon salt and return to a strong simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until barley and leeks are tender, about 35 minutes, adding shredded chicken in the last 5 minutes. Add most of the parsley and stir to mix. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste. Serve at once, sprinkling each portion with some of the remaining parsley.


Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen” Send comments to cooking@globe.com
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