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Sopa de Gallina

Sopa de Gallina

“Tis’ the season to be jolly” they say and what is a better way to be joyful this holiday season than preparing delicious food? Last week I traveled to El Salvador to work and visit family for the Holidays, and in the midst of magical central America, I embarked on the fifth chapter of my Natural Grilling Journey.

On this occasion, I will cook authentic Salvadoran Sopa de Gallina. ‘Sopa de Gallina’ is a hearty chicken soup. Salvadoran cuisine in general is rich in flavors and tradition, and one of its cherished dishes is the famous ‘Sopa de Gallina’. This traditional chicken soup is hearty, nourishing, and packed with vibrant flavors that make it a beloved choice for many occasions.

    First thing’s first: The ‘Gallina’. Gallina in El Salvador for all terms and purposes is actually chicken. However not all chickens are created equally. Gallinas are raised under natural conditions, and not as the more common chicken you can find everywhere. So it is less meaty, however it is delicious in flavor. I went to the local market for a fresh Gallina and bought all the other fresh produce needed for the dish.

    To start, I washed the Gallina under cold water and placed it in an extra large DRIP EZ pot for a while. In the meantime I started the fire with all natural FOGO Lump Charcoal. I then took my uncle's large traditional clay soup pot, placed it on top of the grill and filled it with about ¾ of the pot with water. I then inserted the whole Gallina in the pot. I added some of the fresh produce: onion halves, garlic cloves, celery, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper to the pot with the chicken, and I let it tender and broil for about 2 hours.

    Once it was time, I added the other fresh produce to the pot, which I peeled and chopped with Messermeister Chef Adventure: the carrots, the chayote, the squash, the potatoes  and tomatoes, more salt and pepper and cooked until the vegetables softened slightly. This might take a will. I had a special situation, because I cooked with charcoal, so it takes longer to cook. In my case it took another 1.5 to 2 hours.

    Onced everything was done, I took the Gallina out with the Outset Tongs and put in a cutting board. Using the Kai Knife I cut the chicken in four big pieces. Then I seared the Gallina pieces with the flavor of the charcoal. Once done I served the hot Sopa de Gallina into bowls. Garnish each serving with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the soup, a piece of chicken and some delicious locally made  corn tortilla.

    Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences. Some prefer adding a touch of cumin or oregano for extra flavor. You can add additional vegetables like corn, peas, or potatoes for variation. This soup pairs wonderfully with warm corn tortillas or crusty bread. Enjoy the heartwarming flavors of this traditional Salvadoran Sopa de Gallina, a dish that embodies warmth, comfort, and the essence of Salvadoran cuisine. As the aroma of simmering spices filled the air and the hearty Sopa de Gallina bubbled away on the pot, it became more than just a recipe. It was a bridge to tradition, a connection to the heart of Salvadoran culture. Cooking this cherished dish during my Christmas holiday trip not only filled the air with glorious scents but also filled our hearts with warmth and memories.

    In every spoonful of this flavorful soup, I found a taste of Salvadoran heritage, a blend of family stories. As the holiday season wrapped us in its joyful embrace, sharing this dish with loved ones became a celebration of togetherness, of unity around a table adorned with laughter and love. As I sipped the rich broth and savored each tender bite of Gallina, I realized that beyond its ingredients lay the essence of a culture, the embodiment of festive gatherings and cherished moments. This Sopa de Gallina wasn’t just a meal; it was a journey. May each bowl of Sopa de Gallina be a reminder of the magic that happens when food, family, and festivity intertwine during this special time of year. Happy cooking, happy holidays!

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