Recipe for Moroccan chicken and rice soup with parsnips and carrots
A few years ago I met Pat when she took a Moroccan cooking class in my kitchen. When she sent me a recipe for a chicken soup with vermicelli that one of her college friends had brought to a reunion weekend, I couldn't wait to try it. And I tried, really, to stick to the recipe. The soup features cinnamon and saffron -- a traditional Moroccan spice combination -- along with the sweetness of carrots and parsnips. Instead of vermicelli, I used leftover cooked rice, which gave the soup great texture; I substituted the boneless chicken breasts I always have in the pantry for whole chicken legs. And I added a few mild black olives, which fit with the Moroccan theme. This is what I call a "second day soup", meaning that, as good as it is on the day you make it, the soup is even better the next day.
Moroccan chicken and rice soup with parsnips and carrots
Adapted from The Complete Book of 400 Soups. Serves 4-6.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
6-1/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
1 cinnamon stick
1 large pinch of sweet paprika
1 large pinch of saffron threads
2 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup black olives (use mild, canned olives)
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the oil and butter over medium hea, and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft. In a small bowl, toss the chicken pieces in the flour, shake off the excess, and add the chicken to the pot. Cook just until the chicken is lightly browned on all sides, and remove the chicken from the pot. Set aside.
Reduce heat to low. Add the carrots and parsnips to the pot, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have lost their rawness. Add the chicken stock, cinnamon stick, paprika and saffron. Bring the soup to the boil; then, reduce to lowest heat and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, blend the saffron in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of boiling water. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice, cilantro and parsley. When the saffron water has cooled, add it to the egg mixture, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
After the soup has cooked for 30 minutes, return the chicken to the pot along with the olives and cooked rice. Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked. Taste, and season with salt and pepper to taste (if you are using unsalted homemade stock, start with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper).
Pour in the egg-lemon-herb mixture, and stir vigorously to combine. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Taste again, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lemon juice, if needed. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
Note: When you reheat the soup after refrigerating or freezing, you might need to add a bit of water or stock as the rice will absorb quite a lot in the cooling process.