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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!).