A hearty, nourishing soup recipe from a talented chef.
I recently profiled Baltimore chef, restaurateur, and anti-hunger advocate Irena Stein. Irena, a Venezuelan immigrant, shared this nourishing, hearty Venezuelan chicken soup recipe to accompany the piece, and I am so glad she did. It is one of my new go-to dinners, and will be one of yours, too.
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What is Venezuelan food?
Venezuelan cuisine is relatively unknown in this country, the arepa being the most popular food. But Irena explained that Venezuelan cuisine represents an international melting pot of diverse cultural and geographic influences.
These influences include indigenous ingredients from the Amazon, mountain, and coastal regions, plus African and Spanish influences from the slave trade and Spanish colonization. One theme that runs through Venezuelan food, according to Stein, is a naturally sweet element, such as from fruit. In this recipe, we see this with the addition of plantain and sweet potato.
Recipe Notes: Venezuelan Chicken Vegetable Soup
I love a soup recipe where the directions essentially read, “Put everything into a pot and cook it.” To me, that represents not only ease, but a recipe truly grounded in home cooking. The kind where precision cedes to instinct, and where written recipes are less important than the oral traditions they come from. (See also: some great Italian food.)
This recipe feels like true home cooking. This soup is easy to make, with flavorful, diverse ingredients that taste fresh and nourishing. A few notes:
- Make sure the plantains are very ripe. They will look brown and scuffed. Underripe plantains are starchy and flavorless.
- Aji dulce are sweet, small peppers popular in Latin and Caribbean cuisine. If you cannot source them, don’t worry. Just substitute an extra bell pepper or leave it out of the recipe entirely.
Did you make this Venezuelan Chicken Vegetable Soup recipe? Tell us about it!
Venezuelan Chicken Vegetable Soup
- 8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 large yellow onion, medium dice
- 3 medium-sized carrots, cut in 1/4" rounds
- 2 very ripe plantains, cut in 1/2" rounds
- 2 large leeks, cut in 1/4" rounds
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and medium diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, medium dice
- 1 each yellow and red pepper, seeds removed, medium dice
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 3 aji dulce, if available
- 2 ears sweet corn, cut into thirds (use frozen if fresh is unavailable)
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh lime, to garnish
- Add all the ingredients to a large stock pot, except for the corn and lime. Reserve some cilantro for garnish.
- Fill the pot with water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for about an hour. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. [Ed. note: I added 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt.]
- Add the corn and warm through. Remove the chicken and when cool enough to handle, pull from the bone and cut the meat into chunks. Return the chicken meat to the soup pot.
- Serve with fresh lime and cilantro. Ideally, refrigerate the stew until the next day to improve the flavor.