Chicken noodle soup. What is lovingly termed “Jewish penicillin.” We Puerto Ricans have our own version of it, and just as good. We use noodles, which are called fideos (fee-deh-os). These noodles are thin coiled strands similar to angel’s hair or vermicelli. People back on the island, in the old days, read the package name and took it to mean any kind of noodles. In time fideos became the most popular pasta in both the island and the mainland. It’s use is mainly in soups. When Puerto Ricans first migrated to New York back in the 1940s and 50s, and went shopping, they wouldn’t ask for noodles, they would ask for fideos. It was the only pasta pasta we knew, apart from spaghetti.

I would say our chicken noodle soup is as healthy and beneficial as its Jewish counterpart; and it has a particular Latin flavor. As noted, if you can’t find the fideos, any thin strand pasta will do as well. You can find this recipe (and others) in my cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Avalon Books).

SOPA DE POLLO CON FIDEOS (Chicken Noodle Soup)

1 broiler fryer (about 2-2 1/2 pounds, cut in parts)
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1/2 pound fideos #169 (see above)
2 medium Idaho or Maine potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 packet Sason Goya (coriander and annatto—found in any supermarket these days)
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 cup tomato sauce
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1. Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry.
2. Place chicken in a large kettle or Dutch oven and add water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until chicken is very tender.
5. Remove chicken to a cutting board and let cool. Bone chicken, discarding bones and skin. Cut meat into bite-size pieces
4. Add chicken pieces, fideos, potatoes, Sason Goya, bouillon cube and tomato sauce to the broth. Add another cup of water, if needed, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. garnish with parsley.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

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