Recipe Notes from Janet Franco
“My husband was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of four. When I met him, he was in medical school and I was a dancer in college. I couldn’t believe he was a Spanish-speaking Jewish person. My family is of Eastern European Jewish ancestry. Over the years, I have learned to embrace the beautiful customs and foods of his heritage. We typically break Yom Kippur fast with this soup, accompanied by garlic bread and lemonade. When the pressure cooker starts rocking and I feel the pangs of hunger and smell the delicious soup that I’ve watched my mother-in-law make all these years, I am filled with a wonderful sensation of all our cultures coming together in a perfect way.
The warming, delicious flavors fill me and link me to generations of families who have overcome so many obstacles to live in this great country. His family came from Spain to Turkey to Cuba to the U.S., and my family from the Polish ghettos to concentration camps to Ellis Island. As our family expands with the introduction of our Greek daughter-in-law, I look forward to seeing our food traditions expand as we embrace and connect with each other around the table.”
Abuela’s Cuban Kosher Chicken Soup
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
12 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
1 large gold potato, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup dried fideo pasta
1 ½ tablespoons chicken bouillon
1 envelope achiote sazón (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1.5 pounds bone-in chicken (legs and thighs), cooked
3 corn cobs, sliced in 4 pieces
1 large carrot, chopped
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Heat oil in a large 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Stir in tomato sauce and cook for 8 minutes. Add water or chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add potato, celery and fideo pasa. Season with bouillon, achiote (if using) and cumin. Cook for 15 minutes or until potato begins to soften. Add chicken, corn, and carrot. Cook for 10 minutes more or until carrot is al dente. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and a cilantro.
Pressure cooker directions
Place all ingredients except fideo, lime juice and cilantro in a pressure cooker. Add water just above half-full. Cook on high for 8 minutes. Quick-release pressure. Add fideo pasta and cook for 3 minutes on high. Release pressure naturally. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and cilantro.
Editor’s Note: Janet Franco’s recipe, Abuela’s Cuban Kosher Chicken Soup, is also featured in the recipe e-book, The Stories of Our Table, by celebrity chef Pati Jinich and the not for profit, Stand Together.