Lamiya's Soup

There aren’t many things I like about winter to be honest. I detest the piles of winter wear and extra bedclothes that clutter up the rooms and most of all, I dread how the cold weather reduces me to a wheezing and coughing wretch. (I have adult-onset asthma.) I am a tropical person, so give me heat and humidity ANY day. Having said that, one must count one’s blessings and I must admit that Pakistan’s winters have a lot to offer in terms of gastronomic pleasures. We get sweet kinoo (oranges) in winter. Soups and teas taste infinitely better when it is cold outside as well. I am also looking forward to my mother-in-law’s famous gorgeous pink tea!

Yesterday, the girls and I worked on lunch together. We made a soup whose recipe came from their sweet aunt, Lamiya, who is from Azerbaijan. It is a hit in our home because it is quite easy to make and is so chock full of goodness that it is a meal all on its own. It does involve a fair bit of ingredients and preparation but maybe that is why the girls love it so – we share a lot of laughs while cooking together.

Anyway, for those of you experiencing winter, I hope you like this recipe for the Azeri soup we made. It is good with any crusty bread but we like it with Tendir Choreyi. I don’t know what this dish is called in Azerbaijan… we just call it Lamiya’s Soup :)

Lamiya’s Soup

Onion, 1 large – chopped/diced fine
Garlic, about 3 cloves – minced
Capsicum, 1 large – cut into small ‘squares’
Tomatoes, about 8 – chopped, the more the merrier!
Carrots, 1 or 2 – diced finely
Potatoes, 1 or 2 – cubed

Coriander, a big bunch – chopped (it’s a big part of the soup, not just a garnish)
Spaghetti/Vermicelli – broken into small bits
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Chilli powder, 1-2 tsp
Turmeric powder, 1-2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp (optional)

For chicken stock:
Chicken bones and half a chicken
Chicken stock cubes – 1 or 2 (MSG free!)
Onion – 1, chopped coarsely
Garlic – 2, chopped coarsely
Pepper corns
Water to cover

1. Place chicken stock ingredients in a large pot. Bring to boil and then simmer over low heat for an hour or so. Remove chicken and shred/chop meat into small cubes. Set meat aside.

2. Saute onions and then garlic in a separate pot. Add chilli powder and turmeric powder and fry for a minute or so. Add tomatoes and cook till softened. Add capsicums and cook till tomatoes have broken down, adding water/stock to make sure mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Add carrots and potatoes and stir.

3. Place a sieve/colander over the pot. Pour chicken stock through the sieve into the tomato mixture and discard bones/onion/garlic. Bring to a boil and add chopped chicken and noodles. When noodles are cooked through, add chopped coriander and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you don’t like the soup too sour, you can add a little sugar.

4. Serve piping hot with crusty bread or Tendir Choreyi.