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Updated: Oct 8
Delicate and easy to make Middle Eastern chicken soup with saffron and wild rice.
Prep time: less than 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves: 6 to 8 people
Another delicate soup with really amazing flavors inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine. It is simple but exquisite. Perfect for a cold night, a snack, or when sick and needing nourishment.
The simplicity of this soup masks the deep flavors it develops as it cooks slowly. The addition of the saffron just takes it to another level.
Sometimes, the best things in life are the simple ones.
What is the flavor profile?
Savory with subtle spices. Complex flavors yet fresh.
What is saffron?
Crocus sativus L., otherwise known as saffron, is one of the most expensive spices in the world. As a rule of thumb, the deeper the color of saffron threads, the better the quality. Deep red with orange tips is considered to be the best. Real saffron threads are fine and evenly sized, with a thin yellow tendril on one end and what looks like a flute on the other side. The color of saffron threads is a deep red. The highest quality saffron threads have the most minimal yellow stem and the highest amount of crocin, one of saffron's key essential oils.
Saffron is native to Southern Europe and is cultivated in Spain, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan and certain Indian states. Saffron is often used in the production of cosmetics, pharmaceutics and textile-dye industries, as well as cooking.
At a price of $3,000 to $8,000 per pound, saffron is by far the most expensive food on earth. Saffron is infamously expensive, but as just a pinch of good saffron will enliven a dish, it won't break the bank.
First, an explanation of saffron's expensive price. Saffron threads are the stamens of the crocus, a high-maintenance flower with difficult, generally low yields. Each flower blooms only one week each year and produces 3-4 stamens, which must be picked by hand, then dried, making the entire process extremely labor intensive and, thus, expensive.
You can buy 0.06 oz (1.7 g) of saffron from less than US$ 20.00 at your local grocery or spice store. All you will need is a pinch and the rest can be stored until needed.
What does saffron taste like?
Saffron has a subtly earthy & grassy flavor & aroma, yet sweet, similar to floral & honey. No spice is more special than saffron. With an unmistakable scent and flavor, saffron straddles sweet and savory effortlessly, and it bestows a striking golden hue on every dish it graces. A few strands of saffron will transform a long list of dishes, adding a mysterious allure to everything from risottos and milk puddings to rich curries and fish stews.
What ingredients will I need for this recipe?
Saffron, a whole chicken or chicken breasts, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, cilantro, allspice, peppercorns, thyme, lemon juice, salt & pepper, wild rice, and Italian Parsley or mint.
What else will I need to make this recipe?
You will need a cutting board, a knife, a measuring cup, and a large pot.
Are there other recipes on this website that call for saffron?
Yes. A Paella recipe, the traditional Spanish dish, can be found by clicking here.
Also Saffron & Seafood Soup. Click here for recipe.
Let's make it!
1 whole chicken or 3 pounds of chicken breasts
1 large yellow onion (unpeeled and quartered)
2 heads of garlic (halved)
5 sticks of celery (cut into small pieces)
6 carrots (unpeeled and cut into small pieces)
1 cup of cilantro (chopped)
1 cup of parsley (chopped)
1 teaspoon of peppercorns
1 teaspoon of allspice
1 teaspoon of thyme
A generous pinch of Saffron
the juice of two lemons
1/2 cup of wild rice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mint or parsley to garnish
In a large pot add the following: onion, garlic, celery, carrots, cilantro, parsley, peppercorns, allspice, and thyme.
Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and cover with water (about 8 to 10 cups of water). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Cover and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Once the time has elapsed, turn the heat off, strain the broth, take the chicken out and place it on a plate to cool, remove all solids, and return the liquid into the pot. Allow the chicken to cool down for about 10 minutes. In the meantime continue to simmer the broth.
Add the saffron and let it bleed into the liquid.
Using your hands, remove the skin of the chicken and discard. Shred the chicken meat into small pieces, making sure you remove all bones. Add the shredded chicken, lemon juice, and the wild rice to the broth. Cover and let it cook for 20 minutes.
Once the rice is fully cooked, serve the soup. Garnish with either mint leaves or chopped parsley.
Printable PDF Recipe File below: