“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.”
Chicken Soup; Inspired by my Sittoo
You’ve read many stories about my Grandmother here on Be Still & Eat about how greatly she influenced me, not only in the kitchen but in life as well. She was truly a remarkable woman. Not an educated or worldly woman, but certainly one of the sharpest and canniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Warm and loving to say the least, but also ferocious and quite honestly terrifying at times. I’m thrilled to state that I’ve been compared to her on MANY occasions. It seems that I inherited her ability to stare someone down in a rather frightening way when they are not behaving as I see fit. YAY ME!
Most of my memories of Sittoo are in the kitchen. She never really looked particularly relaxed anywhere else. Even when she was sitting down in the living room with family, or on the lawn in one of those old webbed chairs at the cottage, you could just see her mind working away on what needed to be done in the kitchen. It was her happy place. It was the place from which she was best able to express to her family how much she loved them. I believe that I’ve also inherited that knowledge from her.
A standard meal which I’m sure my Sittoo must have churned out literally thousands of times was what we now refer to as Syrian Supper; Syrian Chicken, Syrian Rice, Cucumber Leban, and typically a side of corn. In the summer it would likely include a huge bowl of fattoush as well (I’ll share that recipe when it’s tomato season again!) That was and remains the ultimate comfort meal in my mind. My brother, sister, Mum and I all still make this meal probably weekly, as I’m sure much of my extended family do.
Another of my Sittoo’s great talents was conservation. Absolutely NOTHING went to waste. As such you could pretty much count on a soup the day after Syrian Supper. I will admit that I often cheat and just make this soup with tetra pac broth and boneless skinless chicken breasts, and since my goal here at Be Still & Eat is to make food approachable I am providing the easy weeknight method which doesn’t require cooking a carcass. If however you’re really clever when you’re making this fantastic meal, you’ll make enough to have a pot of Sittoo’s Perfect Chicken Soup. I strongly encourage you to do so… and I say strongly encourage since I can’t give you the evil eye in your own kitchen silently telling you to do it!
Enjoy & Namaste!
- Olive oil for the pan
- 1 medium or 2 small onions, diced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups corn, frozen is a perfectly acceptable alternative to fresh
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or torn
- 2 cups chick peas (OPTIONAL)
- ½ cup uncooked long grain rice, (I use brown but white is fine too)
- 4-6 cups good quality chicken broth
- S&P to taste
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- Heat oil in a large pot
- Add onions stirring over medium high heat until beginning to turn translucent, stirring frequently
- Add garlic, continuing to cook for a few more minutes, stirring constantly
- Add corn and chicken and chickpeas if using
- Add broth and bring to a simmer
- Add rice, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes or so
- Adjust seasoning as necessary
- Add zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Garnish with fresh chopped spinach or parsley