Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gluten Free Moroccan Chicken Soup

There is nothing like homemade chicken soup to warm your insides on a cold day. I have had to adjust many of my favourite recipes due to having Celiac disease and many food allergies. I am a bit of a foodie and only like foods that taste good, so I find there are many gluten free foods that I do not like.

I also only want to cook one meal for my family rather than cooking one for me and something else for everyone else. The challenge is to make something everyone likes that do not taste like you are missing something. I have found the best way to do this is to use herbs and spices in different combinations to keep the flavours good.
I made this awesome soup using Moroccan flavours and it was a real hit with my family.
The aroma of this soup was very enticing, and had you not wanting to wait for dinner.

1 – 2 tbsp. olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into thin small slices
1 tsp cinnamon, paprika, cardamom, curry powder, cumin, turmeric
1 tbsp Moroccan spice mix (bought at a speciality store)
A small pinch of saffron
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup raisins
2 chopped tomatoes
3 carrots peeled and sliced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ of a jalapeno, finely chopped
1 can of regular coconut milk
1 tbsp of potato starch, mixed with ½ cup of cold water
1 tetra pack of gluten free chicken stock
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
a few sprigs of fresh parsley

This sounds like a lot of ingredients, but they are mostly spices and they make the end product a real treat. 
You would think that this many spices in one dish would be overwhelming but it just works.

The first step is to add your spice mix (not including the fresh parsley or the saffron) to the bowl of your mortal and pestle bowl and crush them softly to bring out the freshness of the spices. I waited for many years to get a mortar and pestle, but I am so glad I have one now. It was not expensive but it sure works good to wake up my spices. I have also used it to crush white peppercorns. I highly recommend you not wait to get one until you are my age.

Take half of the spices and mix them into your sliced chicken. Refrigerate for a half hour. 

Add the olive oil to a large soup pot. Over medium heat add the chicken and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are clear but not browned. Add the garlic and remaining spices  except for the saffron and sauté for one minute. Do not burn the spices as they will get bitter if you do. 

When the prep was done and the soup simmering was the perfect time to enjoy a little bit of herbal tea. My new favourites are from steeped teas. My current favourite is the Amaretto. The aroma of this tea is almost as relaxing as the taste. I love to pull out a beautiful mug just to enhance the experience.

I used lots of vegetables from my garden for this soup. This year I grew purple carrots, but my husband would not eat them unless they were in a soup, (my bunny was happy about this) but next year I will grow orange carrots so everyone gets to enjoy them.

We have had a problem with fruit flies this year that I do not seem to be able to eliminate, so I have been using this mesh cover while I am waiting to add my vegetables to the pot. I have found a trap that works but that is for a future blog. You can see my bottle of apple cider vinegar that I tried to use, but it just did not work for me. The potatoes I used were new baby potatoes that were left over from a previous meal, so I did not peel them. If you are using anything but new potatoes make sure you remove the peels. Add the chicken stock, carrots, saffron, potatoes, jalapeno, raisins and the remaining spice mix and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft. This will take about fifteen to twenty minutes. When the vegetables are cooked add the coconut milk and heat until hot. If the soup needs thickening stir in the potato starch, that has been mixed with water to the soup, stirring constantly. 

You could serve the soup now, but if you let it simmer over very low heat the flavours will have time to marry, and your house will smell divine. That will give you time to mix up some biscuits or in my case zucchini bread to serve with your soup. I like to time it so the bread has about 10 minutes to rest before you serve it. 

You can serve this soup with biscuits or toasted pita bread. I made gluten free zucchini bread from an XO mix for myself as I have not yet found a recipe for biscuits or pita bread that meet my standards. When I do you will be the first to hear about it. The XO mixes I have tried so far have been really good. They are moist and I am finding them almost better than wheat recipes. Besides being celiac and not able to eat gluten I am also allergic to beans and bean flours, rice, soy and corn. Most of the mixes and pre-made gluten free bread products I have found have not met my standard, except for the XO mixes. I have tried a few of them and have been very happy with the results. The only problem with them is the cost. They are very expensive.
I hope that one day they will be priced a little more favourably. Add a garnish of chopped parsley to the top of your bowl of soup. It adds a bite of fresh and looks good too.

In case you have not already found a margarine you can use, this is my favourite. I keep this one just for myself and my husband has his own. He still eats gluten wheat bread so it is easier to have my own margarine. It keeps me safe from cross contamination. This is the only brand I have found that is soy and dairy free. It is pretty easy to find either in the health food store or at most of the grocery stores as well. I usually try to pick mine up at quality foods where I can pick an item per day that I can purchase at a discount with my membership card. 

This is now one of my favorite soups. Up in the top few with tortilla soup. 

I hope you enjoy my soup with a burst of flavours as much as we did.


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