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Chicken Soup with Chickpeas and Broken Vermicelli is a Middle Eastern inspired twist on a chicken noodle soup. It is savory and comforting, yet tangy and fragrant with elusive spices. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing in this post.
This is, alas, a tale of woe. This is the tale of an outstanding chicken soup, tangy with lemon and tomato, rich with warm spices and homemade broth, satisfying with dark chicken meat, broken vermicelli noodles and chickpeas, that got left out all night.
Sigh. Who’s with me? Who else has done this? I loved this soup. And because I had been feeling under the weather, I made a big pot of it and was looking forward to a week of slurping happily. And somehow we, John and I, each thought the other had dealt with the leftovers.
Sniff. It was glorious the one night we had it though.
Moving on from fake tragedies to real ones (sorry that’s all the segue I got), the soup started with a fabulous new cookbook called Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate our Shared Humanity, edited and organized by Barbara Abdeni Massaad, who wrote Man’oushe: Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery (<–on my wish list). The cookbook is full of recipes contributed by celebrity chefs (for example: Anthony Bourdain, Mark Bittman, Yotam Ottolenghi, Alice Waters, Ana Sortun), and all proceeds from sales of the book go toward various charitable organizations that are helping with food relief for the Syrian refugees.
Contrary to what you might think in light of the recipe I chose, the recipes are not all Middle Eastern, just some are. I was attracted to the spices and citrus in the soup, making this soup more interesting than traditional Chicken Noodle Soup. It is not too interesting though, it is still recognizable as a version of a chicken noodle soup. If you like chicken noodle soup I feel confident you will enjoy this. On the other hand, if you find traditional chicken noodle soup a little bland or boring, I also feel confident you will like this chicken soup better! The original recipe was contributed to Soup for Syria by Helena Zakharia, who is a friend of Barbara Abdeni Massad’s and a cooking and baking instructor based in Lebanon.
- 2 lbs bone-in skin-on chicken legs or thighs
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6-8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1/2 t rounded cinnamon I prefer Ceylon here
- 1/2 t rounded allspice
- 1 large or 2 small tomatoes chopped
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- scant 1/2 cup broken vermicelli
- juice of 1-2 lemons
- chopped flat leaf parsley
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Brown the chicken pieces--in batches if they crowd the pan. When all of the chicken pieces are browned on both sides, remove them to a bowl. If you are unhappy with the amount of oil in the pan, pour some of it off (I am fine with some chicken fat in my soup--fat is flavor).
Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Stir, and let cook until translucent. Add the garlic and carrots with another pinch of salt. Stir and cook another 3 minutes.
Add the cinnamon and allspice and stir into the onions. Let it roast for about 1 minute and perfume the entire dish.
Add the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Let the tomatoes simmer for about 5 minutes and thicken.
Add the chicken back into the pan along with enough water to cover the chicken by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Let simmer for 2+ hours (the longer it can simmer, the more flavor you will have, but the longer it cooks the more gentle the simmer should be, anything longer than 4 hours you should make the stock separately and then cook your chicken because the chicken meat will eventually dry out while it flavors the stock).
20 minutes before serving, remove the chicken to a bowl and let cool.
Add the chickpeas to the pot.
Taste the soup for salt--remember you will be adding lemon juice. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Add the vermicelli so it can cook.
Shred the chicken off of the bones, and discard the bones and skin. Make sure the chicken shreds are as small as you want them (i.e., bite-sized). Add them back into the pot.
When the vermicelli is tender, add the juice of one lemon. Taste again for salt and more lemon juice.
Ladle into serving bowls hot, and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for anyone who wants more sour (me!).
Linda @ Food Huntress says
Oh, yes, I’ve left a dish sitting out overnight, thinking I’d let it cool and put it in the refrigerator later. And it makes me so mad when that happens. I’ve never added allspice and cinnamon to a chicken soup recipe before so I will have to try this recipe. Thanks for all those cookbook recommendations!!!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
The horror! Well no you just have plenty more reasons to make MORE soup! Yum and so comforting!!
Alisa @ Go Dairy Free says
The flavors of this soup are so inspiring. We’re big chicken soup fans, but I’ve been craving something different like this!
This soup sounds so good, perfect for chilly days when you just can’t keep warm!
Kacey @ The Cookie Writer says
I just took some chicken legs out of the freezer! I hear you. My brother made a large batch of chili and left it overnight on the stove and I guess the residual heat caused it to ferment. The next morning he had a bowl and then asked me to smell it because it tasted weird… Haha, have to love men! Now you have an excuse to make it again!
Michelle | A Dish of Daily Life says
This is my kind of soup! I love chicken soup with lemon…I make several myself. I can’t wait to try this one…if I have chickpeas, I might be making it today…I have everything else and we have roasted chicken leftovers from yesterday! 🙂
Kristi Rimkus says
I love the cinnamon and allspice. Terrific idea to add to chicken soup!
Delicious!! I could easily swap out the vermicelli for GF spaghetti and make this gluten-free. So good. It’s definitely soup season here!
Just made this over the weekend and it is delicious! I made a few modifications based on what I had. I used some homemade chicken stock (6 c.) so instead of simmering the thighs for several hours, I just started the soup by cooking some S/B thighs in oil, removed them to saute the rest of the aromatics, then added them back in with the stock. Later I pulled them out and shredded the meat up. Also had a half a bulb of fennel and a bit of baby spinach to use up so threw that into the pot, and used canned tomatoes, but home cooked chickpeas. Wonderful flavor and so comforting. I think a good stock is essential here though. Thanks for a great recipe.
Thanks for letting me know how it turned out! And I agree about the stock–which is why I simmered the thighs for a while–I think the original recipe called for a much quicker cooking which is funny because to me this was still pretty quick!
Helena Zakharia says
I am very happy to hear that you have enjoyed my soup recipe. This is a soup my mother used to make for us, when we were sick. It worked for all kinds of ailments.
I love knowing that the recipe is a family heirloom like that! Thanks for stopping by!