Hometown Recipes: Ernesto’s Spicy South American Chicken Soup
Warning; this soup, made as directed, is definitely not for the faint of taste bud! If you can’t eat anything spicier than mild salsa, please use half the amount of chilies (or less) called for in this recipe.
Two weeks ago I drove up to Northern California to visit my son. I left our house at 4 a.m. and arrived at his house at 3:30 in the afternoon….yes, it’s a looonnnggg drive. How did I keep myself entertained all that way you ask? Well, I made a nine hour playlist for my iPod and sang out loud for most of the journey! Of course, this is something you can only do when you are by yourself without risk of bodily injury.
Besides a bear hug from my son, I was greeted at his door by the delicious aroma of spices and chicken wafting through the air. All I can say is God bless my son’s roommate, Ernesto! He decided I would be too tired to cook anything when I arrived and made this wonderful soup before he left for his night class….ok, how sweet was that? Ernesto served the soup ladled over rice and topped with finely minced fresh oregano and sesame seeds. I am going to serve it tonight and will add crumbled Queso Fresco and minced cilantro as well. Enjoy everyone!
Start to finish is about 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes approximately 8 cups of broth plus 4 cups of chicken
You will need-
- 6-8 quart soup pot with lid
- 12” non-stick skillet
- 9x13 baking dish
- Clean dish towel
- Large mesh strainer
- Wooden spoon
- Large bowl
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 3 Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce or 3 dried Chipotle Chilies (stems removed if dried)
- 1 dried New Mexico Chili, stem removed
- 1 dried Habanero Chili, stem removed
- 2 dried Ancho Chilies, stems removed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon each, coarsely chopped hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts (or 3 tablespoons of any one of these nuts or combination there-of).
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds plus more for topping soup
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 large chicken leg quarters, about 5 pounds, skin removed
- Sea salt
- 1 tablespoon dried Oregano
- 2 ripe Roma tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 2 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 6 cups of chicken broth
- 4 slices of bread or 1 cup cooked, drained pinto beans
- 8 oz. heavy cream
- ¼ cup finely minced fresh oregano for topping soup
Put pepper flakes, chilies, bay leaf, nuts and seeds in the non-stick pan. Turn heat to low or med-low and toast until sesame seeds are light golden and chilies are fragrant, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Put olive oil, chopped onion and garlic in soup pot, sprinkle with 2 pinches of sea salt. Turn heat to medium and sauté ingredients for about 3 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low, add chicken thighs meaty part facing up, and sprinkle with 3 generous pinches of sea salt. Cook chicken, turning over occasionally until chicken meat is turning beige. Add chili-nut mixture to the pot. Add dried oregano, tomato, brown sugar and chicken broth. Turn heat to medium and cover pot with lid. Bring soup to a simmer, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and let simmer for about 25 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through.
Remove chicken thighs with tongs and place in baking dish until cool enough to handle. Add bread or pinto beans to the broth and continue to simmer while chicken cools. When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull meat off the bones and chop into spoon size pieces, set aside. Note-You will have approximately 4 cups of meat.
Use a ladle to spoon broth (chilies and all) into the blender. Puree soup in three batches. Note- Cover the lid of the blender with a dish towel to avoid getting hot liquid on your hand. Pour each batch through a large mesh strainer into the large bowl. Use the back of the wooden spoon to push liquid through strainer into the bowl. Discard solids. Return pureed broth to the soup pot and stir in heavy cream. Add chicken and stir to combine well. Top soup with finely minced oregano and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.