Sunday, 21 May 2017

Lemon and Garlic Chicken Soup

Whenever I caught a cold my Jedo would always say that I needed to drink Araq (Lebanese moonshine) and eat more lemon and garlic. The great man lived for 96 years. He knew his stuff. 

Now, I can't reveal his Araq recipe, but I can share a tip or two about cooking with lemon and garlic. Lemon contains a significant amount of Vitamin C, and garlic has been used as a natural antibiotic for centuries. It's used in a variety of Lebanese recipe bases. As the cold and flu season rears its ugly head, it makes perfect sense to get this traditional soup on the stove. In my grandparents' village in Lebanon (Rachine) the name of this dish translates to 'Potato with Lemon and Garlic'. That's right, no mention of chicken. It's all about that base. 

A word of advice. If you want to keep up with the lemon needs in my family, buy boxes of lemons when they're in season. Squeeze, jar, freeze.

Another word of advice. Get to Flemington Markets before my family. No lemon will be left behind.

1 whole chicken 
1/2 kg potatoes
6 cloves of garlic
2 tsp salt
300mL lemon juice
2L water
Olive oil for frying
Salt to taste

The awesome foursome that make this dish magical

1) Butcher the chicken into smaller pieces, leaving the skin on. Cut the potatoes in half or quarters. You may wish to peel the potatoes, but I like to take advantage of all the goodness in the skins.

2) Brown the chicken and potatoes in a lightly oiled pan.

3) Flip the chicken and potatoes, ensuring that all sides are browned.

4) Crush the cloves of garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle. Adding the salt at this stage creates friction, turning the garlic into a fine paste.

5) Boil the water in a large stockpot and add the crushed garlic to it. Place the cooked chicken and potatoes to the pot. Allow to boil for 15 to 20 minutes.

6) If you do not have frozen jars of lemon juice handy (seriously, why not?) squeeze fresh lemons. For 300 mL, you will need about 5 medium lemons.

7) Add the lemon juice to the boiling stockpot, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Salt to taste, then serve!

For the fussier eaters out there, you may wish to remove the chicken from the bone, or even swap the whole chicken for fillets. You won't get the same full bodied stock, but it will do the job!

Whether you need a rescue remedy, or you just love lemon, sahtein!