It’s the chicken version of a soup called picadillo that I grew up with. Don’t confuse Filipino-style picadillo with the Mexican and Cuban picadillo which is a ground beef stew. The Philippine version of the Cuban picadillo is arroz a la Cubana.
Picadillo in the Philippines is a soup with small pieces of beef. My father made his with potato cubes; my mother-in-law’s version has chayote. My version has carrot, potato and chayote cubes.
But because my older daughter Sam eats no mammals, chicken is substituted for the beef. The cooking time is a mere 30 minutes but the soup is simply superb.
It begins with a spice base. Shallots, garlic and a hefty amount of tomatoes are sauteed in cooking oil until the vegetables soften.
The chicken is added along with a couple of bay leaves, fish sauce is drizzled in and ground black pepper is sprinkled in. Everything is cooked with occasional stirring until the chicken meat has lost its raw appearance.
Add the vegetables, pour in your chicken broth and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are done.
Because the vegetables soak up the saltiness of the fish sauce during cooking, you will need to taste the broth and adjust the seasonings, if needed, before you serve your chicken and vegetable soup.
Chicken and vegetable soup
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 shallots - peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped
- 4 large tomatoes - diced
- 1 to 2 bay leaves
- 4 to 8 chicken thigh fillets - skin on, cut into half-inch cubes
- fish sauce
- ground black pepper
- 1 medium carrot - peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
- 1 medium chayote - peeled, cored and cut into half-inch cubes
- 1 large potato - peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
- 4 to 6 cups chicken bone broth
- cilantro - to garnish
- Heat the oil in a pot.
- Saute the shallots, garlic and tomatoes until softened.
- Add the chicken and one to two bay leaves.
- Pour in a tablespoon of fish sauce and a quarter teaspoon of ground pepper.
- Cook, stirring often, until the chicken is no longer pink and the mixture is starting to turn dry.
- Add the carrot, chayote and potato cubes.
- Pour in the chicken bone broth and bring to the boil.
- Taste and add more fish sauce and ground pepper, as needed.
- Cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are done, about 15 minutes.
- Taste the broth one last time and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Serve the chicken and vegetable soup garnished with cilantro.