There is nothing as comfortable as chicken soup. Canja de Galinha, with countless versions and variations, is served all over Brazil and is regarded as one of the national dishes. Brazilians fell in love with this soup almost 500 years ago, when Portuguese people fist introduced them to rice. This recipe involves some extra steps, which are not part of most soup recipes. Making your own chicken soup is worth all the effort that goes into it and it’s a great way to take new friends. Everyone will want a bowlful.
13.5 pounds chicken (preferably organic cut into 8 pieces)
2 garlic cloves
3 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 whole cloves
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large carrot
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 cups water
½ cup long-grain rice
5 sprigs fresh mint
Wash the chicken pieces, pat them dry with a paper towel, and lay them in a large bowl.
Wash your hands with lots of hot soapy water.
Slightly crush the garlic by laying the flat side of a chef’s knife in the clove and pressing firmly to break open the skin. Remove the skin, cut off the stem end, and discard. Chop the garlic.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. A Dutch oven or soup pot will work best.
Once the oil is hot but not smoking, brown the chicken pieces on both sides. You will have to do this in two batches, since there won’t be enough room in the pan to cook all the pieces at once.
Remove the browned pieces to a clean platter and drain the fat from the pot. Leave the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, since they will add additional flavor to the soup.
Return the chicken to pot along the onion, carrot, bay leaf, black pepper, and water and bring to a boil over high heat. This will take 15 to 20 minutes.
When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Several times during cooking, take a large spoon and carefully skim off foam or fat rises to the top.
When the chicken is done turn off the heat. Remove the chicken pieces and the carrot from the broth with a slotted spoon and lay them on a clean tray or platter to cool. Discard the onion.
Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a heat-proof bowl or pan, and then pour it back into the pot where it just cooked.
Return the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and the remaining teaspoon of salt.
As soon as the broth boils again, reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
In the meantime, remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Pull the meat off the bones and tear it into medium-size pieces. Discard chicken bones.
Slice the carrot into small cubes. Add the chicken and carrots to the pan. Heat the soup 15 minutes.
In the meantime, wash the mint, remove the slaves from the stems, and tear the leaves in half
Serve the soup hot and garnish each bowl with a few of the mint leaves.