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  • Melissa Orquiza

Chicken & Escarole Soup with Charmoula & Lemon, Little Feat & Mussorgsky

Chicken and Escarole Soup with Charmoula & Lemon. Perfect when you need to a little spice in your life to shake things up!

So beautiful and comforting!!

Chicken & Escarole Soup with Charmoula & Lemon, Little Feat, & Mussorgsky

I'm pretty good with absurd. I love my family and their quirkiness, but "plain" or "boring" are definitely not what you'd describe my parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. My husband's family is remarkably similar. On the outside, they look pretty "normal" but once you scratch the surface, their genius is pretty hard not to acknowledge. Both of our families have a tendency to try to hide or downplay their special gifts, which makes for some pretty hilarious family reunions because you're not quite sure if someone is pulling your leg (not to mention the hilarious antics they've all been up to lately).

As parents of a young daughter, (like most families) we both have different ideas about what's best for her. My husband is adamant that she embrace her gifts and not hide them in order to assimilate. He wants her to be an unapologetic badass. I come from a culture where drawing too much attention to yourself is not necessarily a good thing. (Yes, you can be smart... but it's better in private, especially if you're a girl. Who wants a smart girl around? Better to be a smart girl who can help... or a quiet badass.)

Based on that non-sequitur, the last two years have made me question so many things...I'm not sure what is up or down anymore. Everyone I know is making the best decisions they can within their own parameters. It's like our two families: just because you're "smart" doesn't mean you'll make good decisions or account for the results you want. When life or people are insane, the best thing you can do is maintain your composure and stay level-headed. When life gets unpredictable (which it always does), what better way to feel better than with a good night's sleep, some laughter, and a great bowl of soup. Here's to ignoring "normal" or the insane and (unapologetically) embracing your inner, intuitive, genius.

Yes. Because Chicken lyrics live beyond "The Chicken Dance." Check out Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt as youngin's!

Little Feat - Dixie Chicken (with Emmylou Harris & Bonnie Raitt) Live 1977. HQ Video.

As your requisite music appreciation lesson, here's Mussorgsky's, "Pictures at an Exhibition." This is the movement called, "Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks." When I taught children, Mussorgsky always made them excited about classical music.

Mussorgsky/Ravel - Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks. Concert for Kids

Thanks for reading! I hope this made you laugh, smile, and maybe lighten your load! (Yes. Classical music can unleash all sort of happy emotions... even those you thought you had lost as a child.) Here's to play and mischief! I hope you have a wonderful week. Xo, Melissa

Chicken & Escarole Soup with Charmoula & Lemon

by Travis Lett, from “Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California”

Serves 4-6

My husband prefers the soup without the charmoula so I usually serve it as a side. Our household runs on chicken soup of all kinds (Asian or Italian), but most notably matzo ball and noodle or pasta. Don't let your chicken soup game get boring. Mix it up with this!


3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 in. thick half- moons

2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4 in. (6mm) thick slices

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced

1 dried guajillo chile

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

One 2 1/2 lb (1.2 kg) chicken, cut into parts

About 8 cups (2 L) chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water

2 heads escarole, torn into medium-size pieces

2 1/2 Tbsp (40g) Tomato Confit

1/4 cup (50g) Charmoula

1 lemon


  1. In a large enameled or stainless-steel pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, onion, leeks, chile, and garlic and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Add the chicken and just enough of the stock to cover it. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a slow simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the top.

  3. Cook until the chicken is just about cooked though, about 1 hour. Once the chicken meat is fully cooked and starting to separate from the bone, remove all the chicken parts and set aside to cool. Remove the broth from the heat and set aside. Remove all the meat from the bones, shred into bite-size pieces, and reserve. (The recipe can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

  4. Warm the reserved broth and add the reserved chicken, the escarole, and tomato confit. Taste again for seasoning. Ladle into serving bowls, drizzle with the charmoula, and squeeze in some lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Tomato Confit

Makes 2 cups (520 g)


3 lb (1.4 kg) tomatoes, such as roma or early girl. (I used canned San Marzano per the recipe as a substitution.)

Kosher salt

10 garlic cloves, smashed

10 fresh thyme sprigs

1 Tbsp dried oregano

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups (480 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F or 120 degrees C. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice water.

  2. Use a paring knife to score a small X in the bottom of each tomato. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20 second, and immediately transfer them to the ice-water bath. Work in batches, if necessary, until all the tomatoes have been blanched.

  3. When the tomatoes are cool, remove them from the water. With a sharp paring knife, peel the skin from the tomatoes; it should slip off easily. Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarter, depending on the size, and gently pull the seeds out with your fingers. The tomatoes do not need to be perfectly seedless, but do your best to clean them so just the tomato flesh remains.

  4. Place the tomatoes in a shallow baking dish or roasting pan and season with salt. Scatter the garlic, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes over the tomatoes. Pour the olive oil over all. Bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and browned around the edges, 3 to 4 hours. Turn them and move them around occasionally while baking so that the tomatoes closest to the edge of the pan don’t burn. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 months, completely covered with olive oil to prevent air from reaching them.


Makes 1 1/4 cups (200 g)


1 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 cups (45 g) chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup (15 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 preserved lemon, rind only, chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 cup (180 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp honey

1 garlic clove

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar


  1. In a small, dry, frying pan over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds just until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool before grinding to a powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the toasted and ground coriander and cumin with the cilantro, parsley, preserved lemon, paprika, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and honey. Using a Microplane grater, grate the garlic into the mixture, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature, and stir in the vinegar just before serving.

Preserved Lemons

Makes 12 Lemons


12 large lemons, washed well

3 Tbsp coriander seeds

3 Tbsp fennel seeds

2 cups (500 g) kosher salt

1 dried guajillo chile

6 fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 cinnamon stick, crushes

2 bay leaves, crumbled


  1. Starting at the top of each lemon, cut a deep X into it, stopping about 1/4 in. (6mm) from the base, so you are left with a quartered lemon held together at one end. Set aside.

  2. In a small, dry pan, toast the coriander seeds and fennel seeds until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. In a medium bowl mix together the salt, toasted spices, chile, thyme, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.

  3. Working over a large bowl, stuff a lemon with a handful of the salt mixture, using your thumb to gently break into the flesh, allowing the juices to run out. Drop this lemon into the bottom of the bowl. Repeat until all the lemons have been stuffed. Pour any remaining salt over the lemons and gently toss.

  4. Carefully pack the stuffed lemons and salt into a 2 qt (2 L) glass jar with a lid, pressing down so they are completely covered with their own juices. Pour in any juice and seasoning from the bowl. Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature until the rinds have softened, 3 to 4 weeks.

  5. Store, tightly sealed, at room temperature for up to 6 months.

#chicken&escarolesoupwithcharmoula&lemon, #gjelina, @littlefeat, @mussorgsky, #balletoftheunhatchedchicks, #dixiechicken

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