I am of Armenian descent, and this recent acceleration of war in Azerbaijan disturbs me for all the peoples involved. This is not a political column, but food belongs to the world, and how much fun it would be to travel freely, with no anxiety of impending strife, to taste engaging flavors and partake it with the peoples that prepare them.
One cannot help but think that leaders of nations get involved in a quest for power, and resulting fallout seems to roll off their backs. The Azerbaijan area is known for its peoples’ longevity. For years their lifestyle, foods and genetics in this regard have been studied. People live longer there than anywhere else in the world. Perhaps this soup will add a few years to your life.
The food of the Soviet nation differs from state to state, and Azerbaijan food is a combination of Middle-Eastern, Mongolian, Persian and Arab seasonings and ingredients. The Arab influence is the use of dried fruits; the Persians, dill; and the Middle-Eastern, chick-peas. By adding curry, some powdered cumin, or a little red pepper, the soup again changes its character to something a bit more exotic. Armenian cuisine, is quite different than the rest of the state they occupy with Azerbaijanis. That in itself surprises me, when there is such proximity of cultures.
Chicken Soup With Rice, Chick-Peas & Prunes Serves 6
1 2 1/2 lb. chicken
6 cups cold water
1 large onion, sliced
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter
1 lge. onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1 cup canned, drained chick-peas rinsed
2 cups dried pitted prunes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill, less if dry, or to taste
Place the chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off foam. Add sliced onion, salt & pepper. Reduce heat to low; simmer 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is tender. Transfer to a plate and remove skin. Cut meat into slivers, reserve.
In a heavy saucepan, melt butter, and saute chopped union until golden brown stirring not to burn it. Pour in strained stock and rice, bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add chick-peas and prunes, simmer 15 minutes more. Add the reserved chicken, and cook 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning, add dill and serve.
Enjoy this hearty soup, and serve it with a robust style of bread (dense Italian or Armenian style bread from a middle-eastern grocer, if there is one near you).