Friday, July 16, 2010

Chicken Soup with Green Plantain Dumplings

On the outside, green plantains look like giant green bananas.  Inside, the flesh is a bright cantaloupe color and quite unwilling to separate from the peel.  They aren't soft or sweet like bananas, but rather hard and starchy like potatoes.  When shredded, pureed and mixed with flour and seasonings, they cook up into very stiff, chewy dumplings.
The soup in the background of this recipe is really something special: homemade chicken broth seasoned with the bright green flavors of bell peppers, oregano and cilantro.  I haven't made a good chicken broth in a long time, and this one is just bursting with the flavors of summer.  The authors describe it as "sunshiny."  
I started with a whole chicken and simmered it with an onion, green pepper, and two teaspoons of salt just until the meat was cooked.  After removing the meat, I returned the bones to the pot for about two and a half more hours.  When the broth was done, I prepared a pureed sofrito (green pepper, onion, oregano, cilantro, olive oil) and cooked it in a different pan for a few minutes, added the broth and cooked chicken bits, and simmered those for a few minutes longer.  I cooked the dumplings in the simmering stew for about ten minutes until they were all floating.  Since I didn't have any parmesan, I served these with some aged cheddar, which gives it a nice kick.  The second time around I added some fresh corn to the soup, and next time I'm going to cook some lentils in the leftover broth and serve it over rice.  I love recipes that keep on giving.

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