Friday, February 27, 2015

Chicken and yogurt soup

If you were to look through my search history, (or at least its clean version) you’ll quickly notice a clear pattern. Most of the searches include the keywords “warm” and “heating”, and phrases such as “how to stay warm” will be at the top of the list. Maybe it’s me, and maybe I’m just stupid, but I think that when you live through what has been called (already) Cleveland’s coldest February in recorded history, you need to make sure you stay nice and warm everywhere you are. I have no trouble staying warm when I’m outside. I wear several layers of clothes, beanies, ear warmers, scarfs, wool socks and boots. If I’m outside, I’m a walking winter mummy.

My problem is staying warm at home. I can’t possibly talk myself out of using every possible room in the house, no matter how cold or drafty it gets. At the same time, we want to give our overworked furnace a bit of a break. After all, it’s not its fault that subzero temperatures are the new normal. So while some of the tips on “how to stay warm” have been helpful, most of them I won’t even attempt testing. Instead, I’ve been gravitating around the time-proven, internationally accepted anti-cold remedy we call soup.

This chicken and yogurt soup is quite simple; but like most soups worth eating, it takes some time to make it. Instead of thighs, I used bone-in, chicken breasts with their skin on; I did it mostly because I like breasts better than thighs in soups, even though thighs usually cook better. I seared the chicken in a Dutch oven, and rendered some of the fat, and then I used it to sauté the vegetables. I returned the chicken to the Dutch oven, and I just used water with salt and pepper. After simmering for a while, I added a little bit of Lebanese yogurt (Laban) to add flavor, acidity and tanginess. Laban is more tangy than our standard Greek yogurt, but they are otherwise the same (but if it’s homemade it can differ on how well stained it is). That’s it; it’s a really simple, yet delicious soup.

Stay warm!

On the road shortcut
Serves 4

1 teaspoon olive oil
1lb chicken breasts, bone in, skin on, cubed
3 leeks, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 cups boiling water
¼ cup Lebanese yogurt (Laban)
1 teaspoon salt (used throughout the recipe)
½ teaspoon pepper

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat it for 2 minutes. Sear chicken about 3-4 minutes per side, seasoning with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Remove the chicken. Use the rendered fat from the chicken to sauté the leeks, celery and carrots. Season with 2 dashes of salt. Sauté for 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté for a minute, then add the tomatoes, the parsley, and 2 pinches of salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the boiling water, pepper and remaining salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, take ¼ cup of the broth, and add it to the yogurt. Return the mix to the pot, simmer uncovered for 5 more minutes. Stir occasionally.

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