Recipe: Persian chicken soup with chicken dumplings
A GREAT WAY TO START: Chicken soup with dumplings. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Note: Adapted from a recipe by chef Todd Aarons of Tierra Sur. Ask your kosher butcher in advance to grind the chicken if you don't have a grinder at home, as well as for chicken back bones for the stock. Persian limes (lemon omani) are available at select Iranian and Middle Eastern markets, as well as online at kalustyans.com and sadaf.com. Matzo cake flour is available at kosher markets. If you follow Sephardic tradition, you may garnish the soup with English peas.
1 1/2 pounds chicken back bones
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion (halved lengthwise), ends removed and halved again lengthwise
1 rib of celery cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 medium carrot cut crosswise into quarter-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, or to taste
2 dried Persian limes (lemon omani), crushed open (this can be done under a kitchen towel)
3/4 teaspoon dried mint
4 boneless chicken thighs with skins, ground (about 3/4 pound)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 medium Spanish onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, or to taste
1/4 cup matzo cake flour
1/2 cup fresh whole baby spinach leaves
Sea salt to taste
Juice from 1 fresh lime
1/2 cup English peas, blanched (optional)
1. Rinse the chicken bones with cold water and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart stock pot set over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, the celery and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, just until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat, if necessary, to keep the vegetables from caramelizing.
3. Stir in the turmeric, crushed dried limes and the mint and continue to sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the chicken back bones and add 2 quarts and 2 cups water (the water should cover the bones by about 3 inches). Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, and skim the fat and debris from the surface. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
5. While the soup is cooking, make the dumplings: In a medium bowl, mix the ground chicken thigh meat with the garlic, Spanish onion, cardamom, matzo cake flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Roll the mixture into 1-inch meatballs, then flatten slightly into ovals and set aside on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. This makes about 2 dozen meatballs.
6. Strain the soup into a clean pot, discarding everything but the broth. Bring the broth back to a simmer and gently add the chicken dumplings, one or two at a time. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the dumplings are cooked thoroughly. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste.
7. To serve, place a couple of dumplings into each soup bowl along with a few spinach leaves (and a few peas, if using). Add the fresh lime juice to the soup, and then ladle about 1 cup into each bowl. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 73 calories; 5 grams protein; 3 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 18 mg. cholesterol; 541 mg. sodium.
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