Canja: Portuguese Chicken Soup

This soup is a family classic. My mom has been making it since I was a kid. It is THE go to soup if you feel a cold coming on. What is it about chicken soup that makes your soul feel so damn good?

The soup is called Canja and it's Portuguese standard issue. My mom was raised country style in the mountains. She has 5 brothers and 4 sisters. Growing up, food was not abundant and you had to work with what you had. She and her siblings would literally hang out around the chickens waiting for an egg. Canja is the perfect example of rural Portuguese cuisine.

There are very few ingredients.

It's easy to make.

You need one pot.

It's filling. 

And it feeds a ton of people.

I wouldn't call this chicken noodle necessarily but it's pretty darn close. Heck, this is the only way I know how to make chicken soup. It honestly is delicious and I've never met someone who didn't fall in love with it. Oh... and star pasta is my favorite. Eeee!!!

If you have a lot of left over turkey... buy some chicken stock, heat in a small pot, and add turkey meat!

a family tradition

One whole chicken
Small pasta (I use Star Pasta)
A few chopped carrots
Black pepper

In a large pot, bring water to a boil with some salt. Go easy- you don't want to oversalt. 

Clean the bird. Rinse in cold water and drain. Add to boiling water and let cook for about 5 minutes. Lower heat to low-medium and put the lid on. Leave there for at least one hour- until the meat easily pulls off. 

Carefully remove the bird. DO NOT DRAIN THE POT. You are looking at home made chicken stock. Leave it be! Let the bird cool until it's easy to handle and go to town. I usually don't include the skin because i'm not a fan of its texture. Shred chicken to pieces and throw back in the big pot of chicken stock. Set the heat to medium. Add the chopped carrots and as much pasta as you want. The amount will vary due to the amount of water and size of chicken. Cook until the pasta is done.

Taste the chicken stock. Does it need salt? Add salt. Sprinkle in some black pepper. If the bird didn't have a lot of fat (fat = flavor), add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.