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Aguadito de Pollo with Crispy Chicken Skin- Peruvian Chicken Cilantro Soup in the Instant Pot

The Kingston Social and I are teaming up again for the new year and resurrecting our monthly Supper Clubs, starting in January. For my first menu, I will be doing a Yum style Peruvian dinner. My MVP pop up was one of my most popular of 2017 but, not one to rest of my laurels,  I really wanted to add something new to the meal and because it will be in January, soup just makes sense.

This particular soup is based on the classic Peruvian soup, Aguadito de Pollo, also known as Levanta Muertos which translates into a soup to wake the dead due to it's restorative, nourishing properties and I have been told that it may or may not be great for a hangover.

I am down with that.

The soup, at it's most simple, is made with tons of cilantro, chicken and vegetables, usually served with whole, skin on chicken legs or thighs but that is not really my thing.

Instead, I removed the skin, crisped it up until it was transformed into a chicken chicharon/cracker. It is crispy, salty and addictive so don't say I didn't warn you. I will take crispy chicken skin over boiled skin any day and this method will give some ridiculously crispy skin.

I love the way the black rice looks in this stunning, vibrant green soup and black rice is also very good for you. It is full of antioxidants like vitamin E and anthocyanin which is also probably really great for a hangover, not that you have to wait until you have one to make it. If you don't have any black rice or can't be bothered to make a separate batch of it, you can skip it but it really adds to the visual appeal of the soup, but gives it a nice, nutty flavour.

If you don't have an Instant Pot, first of all, my sympathies and second of all, you can make it in a pot on the stove but you should cut the water back to about 6 1/2 cups and you will need to simmer it for about 45 minutes. 

Aguadito de Pollo with Crispy Chicken Skin

Peruvian Style Chicken Cilantro Soup

Makes approx 2 litres/quarts or about 6 servings

2 poblano chilis, seeded and roughly chopped
3 scallions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 to 2 tbls Aji Amarillo paste
2 heaping cups of washed and roughly chopped cilantro
approx 1/4 cup water

6 chicken thighs - with bone and skin preferred
2 tbls canola oil
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
2 tsp cumin
3/4 cup or one rice cup of basmati rice
pinch kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
I cup of frozen peas

To serve:
chopped cilantro
lime wedges
*Crispy Chicken Skin
**cooked black rice - optional

Throw the poblanos, scallions, garlic, cilantro and a bit of water in the blender and puree. Add just enough water to get it going - 1/4 cup should be about the maximum needed but don't worry if it's a bit more.

If you are going to do the crispy chicken skin, remove it and set aside. If not, just leave it on the thighs. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces.

Preheat the Instant Pot (or the saute function on your brand of electric pressure cooker) and when it's hot, add the chicken thighs, flesh side down (or skin side down if you ar

e leaving the skin on). Brown the chicken and remove from the pot.

Scrape the green cilantro puree into the hot chicken fat and cook that , stirring frequently, for about 4 or 5 minutes, until it turns a really deep green. Pour in the four cups of chicken stock and then pour the 4 cups of water into the blender and give it a good shake so that you don't waste any of that green puree and pour that into the pot, mix in the cumin. Put the chicken back in the pot along with 1/2 cup of basmati rice, lock the lid in (make sure the vent is closed) and program it for 15 minutes at High Pressure.

When the time is up, do a quick release and with tongs, remove the chicken thighs and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Add the frozen peas and put the lid back on so the peas can heat up in the hot soup while you wait for the meat to cool off.

Remove the meat from the bones (discard the bones) and shred it up roughly before adding it back into the broth.

To serve, if using the black rice, add a scoop to each bowl, cover with soup, sprinkle a bit more cilantro over the top and some sliced scallions and top each bowl with a piece or two of crispy chicken skin and a couple of lime wedges on the side.

*Crispy Chicken Skin

Preheat the oven to 375F

Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet.

take the reserved chicken skin and spread it out on a cutting board. Slice each skin into two or three strips. Lay the strips out on the parchment lined backing sheet, sprinkle them generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay another pice of parchment on top and then cover it with a second baking try to weigh the skins down and keep them from curling.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes until they are totally crispy and brown. Transfer the skins to paper towel to drain. They can be left at room temperature for 2 or 3 hours

**Cook 1 cup of black rice separately and set it aside. I do this in my rice cooker while the soup is cooking but you can do it before hand ,up to a day in advance. Cook it the same way you would cook basmati rice.

When you are ready to serve, add a scoop of black rice to each bowl - if you cook the black rice in the actual soup, it will ruin the beautiful, vibrant green colour and turn it into delicious but hideous looking dark grey sludge. Trust me on this one.

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