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Cold Outside & Warm Inside

by Melissa Jin L.Ac.

Baby it’s cold outside in NY. I have woken up to snow and there will be ice to follow. Not for me, but I like to eat with the season even if the season sometimes can’t make up its mind. Today I’m going back to some familiar roots and dressing up a Sopa de Pollo (chicken soup). I like to put that first spoon up to my lips and feel that steam coming right off. We start off with some basic ingredients like chicken. This can be either a whole chicken or just dark meat. I like dark meat so I’ll be using thighs only today. Let’s talk about flavor. Chicken is one of those beautiful meats that can gain so much flavor if you let it marinate in seasoning. 

I love to have many aromatics. I love to open the lid and have that smell engulf the my entire kitchen further wafting into the house. 

Clean and rinse 2 pounds of chicken with cold water.  Pat dry and season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 packet of sazón,  1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Add fresh lemon  juice. I start by marinating my chicken with the spices and adding in my lemon that was already squeezed. I like to leave the meat in the fridge for at least four hours, sometimes overnight. 

I like to quickly sauté the onions and peppers along with the garlic. These all open up the orifices eyes, ears, nose and mouth. 

Start by dicing 1 medium white onion, and half a green pepper, 3-5 cloves of garlic, and 5 sprigs of fresh cilantro.  Bring a pot to medium heat, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and begin to brown the chicken for 5 minutes. Add medium diced onion, ½ diced green bell pepper, garlic, 2 tablespoons of sofrito and stir, 1 tablespoon of bacon fat (optional), 1 tablespoon of capers, and 1 small can of tomato sauce. Add 8 cups of chicken broth and add 1 packet of sazon, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 3 bay leaves, salt to taste, and fresh cilantro.  Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium low heat for 25 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, prepare your vegetables.  After 25 minutes, add the diced potatoes, 3 small corn on the cob cut in half, 1 cup of carrots, and yellow plantains (this is optional).  Add 1 cup of fideos (2 & ½ bunches)  and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with a bowl of white rice,  tostones and crisp bacon or chicharrón depending on what you like.  

Many people ask why talk about food. Food in my mind is love. The love we show ourselves, our friends and family. The true caring we show our own bodies. I look at most dishes from the perspective of what are my five flavors. I personally like to taste all five within a dish if I can. 

I spent many a day sitting at my grandma's table waiting for her rice - I couldn’t wait to walk into that house and smell her cooking, and I hope the same for you! Below is the recipe for this incredible dish.


Sopa de Pollo

2-3 lbs of chicken cut down to chunks 

Note if using drum sticks only make slits in the meat 

1 medium onion diced 

1/2 green pepper diced 

1/2 diced red Chile pepper 

3-5 cloves of garlic finely diced 

5 sprigs of cilantro 

2 tbsp of olive oil 

1 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp black pepper 

1 packet of sazón 

2 tbsp of sofrito 

1 lemon 

1 tbsp of capers 

1 small can of tomato sauce 

1 tsp of oregano 

3 bay leaves 

8 cups of chicken stock/ broth 

1/2 cup of chopped carrots 

1 plantain sliced yellow 

1 cup fideos 

4-5 short corn on the cob 

1 cup of diced potatoes 

2 plantain verde (green)

3 strips of crisp bacon fat rendered to the side 

White rice