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Mains, Soups

Sephardi chicken soup with herb-flecked kneidelach

Sephardi chicken soup with herb-flecked kneidelach
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

When I married into a Yemenite family in Israel more than 40 years ago, it raised some eyebrows. Since my family was of Polish and Russian origin, I was embracing a different culture, including foods that were unlike the Ashkenazi ... Read more

Total time: 3 1/2 hours | Serves 6 to 8
  • 2 pounds chicken pieces, preferably legs and thighs
  • 2 carrots (1/2 carrot cut in 2 chunks, the rest quartered lengthwise and sliced about 1/4-inch thick), divided
  • 1/2 pound asparagus (about 8 spears), bases reserved and spears cut into thirds, divided
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 celery ribs with leafy tops, cut into thirds
  • 4 dill stems (leaves reserved)
  • 4 cilantro stems (leafy tops reserved)
  • 11 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 white squash (Mexican squash) or 1 to 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced about 3/8-inch thick (1 2/3 cups)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped dill leaves and fine stems
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and fine stems
  • Herb-flecked kneidelach
  • Zehug, a chile-garlic relish

Step 1In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the chicken, carrot chunks, the asparagus bases, the onion, celery, dill stems, cilantro stems and water.

Step 2Bring to a boil, skimming the foam a few times. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Skim thoroughly.

Step 3Add the cumin, turmeric, a pinch of salt and one-half teaspoon ground pepper. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender and the soup is well flavored, about 2 hours, skimming occasionally.

Step 4Discard the pieces of vegetables and herbs. Remove the chicken pieces and cool slightly, then discard the skin and bones. Cut the meat in strips and return them to the soup. Skim the fat from the broth.

Step 5In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of the broth to a simmer. Add the carrot slices and return to a simmer, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus spear pieces and the squash pieces to the soup and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add the asparagus tips and continue to cook until the vegetables are done to your preference, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Return the vegetables' cooking broth to the rest of the soup.

Step 6Before serving, bring the soup to a simmer. Add the cooked vegetables and heat through. Add the chopped dill and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired. This makes a scant 2 1/2 quarts of soup.

Step 7To serve, put 2 or 3 matzo balls in each soup bowl using a slotted spoon, and ladle hot soup over them. Add some vegetables and a few chicken strips to each bowl. Serve with the zehug in a small bowl.

Note: It is best to make the soup a day or two ahead and to refrigerate it, so that skimming the fat is easier. The soup is served with herb-flecked kneidelach (matzo balls) and zehug (a chile-garlic relish).


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