Guajillo Chile Chicken Soup
The good news is that no one's dying, and the bad news is that the annual November cold has finally hit my kids. So it's chicken soup for us. I spent years making a Korean chicken soup, then a Vietnamese version, but this has been my favorite for the last few years. My husband, who hates the flavored water known as soup, genuinely likes this and is genuinely surprised every time that he does.
This was a happy accident. I tried a recipe which turned out to be really awful, and this is what happened when we fixed it. The addition of feta to chicken soup seems a little strange, but it's so good! It adds a nice salty note. If you hate feta you could use goat cheese or queso fresco. I would use 4 peppers, and I have in the past, but I'm afraid that it might make the soup spicy and I want my kids to eat this. I have a sneaking suspicion that these peppers aren't spicy at all, but it's been so long since I've used the full amount that I can't remember anymore and end up playing it safe every time. The rice will continue to swell over time, so one cup will make a really thick soup, but not until the next day. If you want a lighter soup, use only 1/2-3/4 cup of rice.
1. Wash out the chicken and remove the liver, neck, heart, and gizzards. (I put the liver in one freezer bag and save it until I have enough to make liver pate, the rest I put in a freezer bag with other odds and ends until I'm ready to make stock.)
2. Put the chicken in a stock pot and add barely enough water to cover the chicken. Less is better. Bring the pot to a boil and skim the scum off with a slotted spoon. Add the onion and garlic and turn it down to a simmer. Let it simmer for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
3. In the meantime, place the 4 guajillo chiles in boiling water and boil away for 10 minutes until they are soft. Drain them, remove the stems and seeds, and blend them in a processor with the tomatoes. If the skins haven't softened or really broken down, you can press the whole mess through a sieve. Add it to the chicken when you're done.
4. When the chicken has cooked through take the chicken out and allow it to cool before removing the meat and chopping or shredding it. Stir in the rice and cabbage and simmer until it's cooked through, then add the chicken back in. Season it with salt and pepper and serve it with a sprinkling of feta and cilantro if you have it.
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