My grandma had a Midas touch when it came to the kitchen. She wasn’t a gourmet style chef but her food tasted so good that some of the deepest burned memories in my brain are from enjoying her simple style of home cooking while visiting their cozy Northern California seaside home. She would start early, move slow, and taste along the way. I learned many techniques about flavor extraction from my grandmother and the base of this chicken soup recipe is one of them. I love how cultures from all over the world use generally the same basic ingredients to create drastically unique dishes using what they have available around them. Yucca (you may know it as cassava) is a root found throughout South America and is a staple in the Brazilian culture. It is very starchy like a potato and shares much of the same versatility. I use it in this recipe because it holds its texture better than potato and creates a soup very similar to chicken and dumplings. Now, who doesn’t like chicken and dumplings! Especially when it tastes good and makes you feel good all the same. Yucca is also hypoallergenic meaning it is unlikely to be a food that triggers a low-grade allergic response. Potatoes are part of the nightshade family which many people are sensitive to. The technique for cooking the chicken is where all the flavor comes from so closely follow at least that step. The rest as they say it up to interpretation. On with the recipe. Let’s cook!
Chicken and Yucca Soup
- 1 whole organic chicken (cut up) OR 3 chicken legs & 2 chicken thighs (bone in with skin)
- 1 Yucca (cassava) 10” long
- 1 Small onion
- 1 Medium Carrot
- 2 Ribs celery
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 1⁄2 Lemon
- 3 tbsp. butter or ghee
- Fresh or dried thyme & sage
- Sea salt
- Cayenne (optional)
- 8 cups clean water or chicken bone broth
Prep time: 20 min – Cooking time: 1 hour – Rest time: 20 min Total: 1 hr 40 min
Pull the chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to start. Season with liberal amounts of sea salt, thyme, and sage.
Dice onions, carrots, celery, and smash and peel the garlic
Cut the yucca into 3” pieces then cut off hard peel by standing each piece on its end and running a knife down the skin working your way around until all skin has been removed. Cut each piece in half and remove the small brown center core. Then cut into 1⁄2 inch pieces
In a large pot bring 8 cups of water and or broth to a simmer add 1⁄2 tsp salt and the half lemon. (8 cups total)
Heat 2 tbsp. butter or ghee in a large skillet and brown the chicken pieces on each side about 3-5 minutes each. Add chicken to the pot of water. Bring to a low boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
While chicken is cooking put the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in the pan you just cooked the chicken in. Add 1 more tbsp butter or ghee and sauté on medium low for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Then add the yucca and cook for 10 minutes more stirring often. Turn off the heat and let the vegetables rest in the pan
Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool on a large plate or bowl. Add the vegetables to the pot of water and gently boil for 15 minutes uncovered until the yucca is soft but not mushy.
When the chicken has cooled enough to work with remove the skin and meat from the bones then chop the meat into bite-size pieces (use the skin too if you like). Add the meat back into the pot with the yucca and turn off the heat. Test for seasoning and salt if necessary. Stir meat into the soup and cover to rest for 20 minutes. Remove the lemon and serve