This place we now call Nebraska has become home to newcomers for thousands of years. Immigration may be a hot political topic, but it’s part of a long continuum. People have moved into and out of this area, brought their cultural traditions with them, changed over time and eventually called this place home.
Lucky for those of us who love to eat, migrations to Nebraska have created a deliciously changing culinary landscape. So we get to live in a place where buffalo, fry bread, tacos, pho, kolaches and beefsteak all have their place in the mix.
New Nebraskans from Africa, Sudanese and Somalis, are adding their traditions to our mix. And while this recipe for Somali chicken soup didn’t originate in a sub-zero climate, it couldn’t be better suited to a chilly Nebraska January.
This recipe from Christopher Kimball’s "Milk Street" offers some spice and heat. But best of all it’s meant to be served family-style. Bring the brothy pot to the table, he advises, “along with the radishes, cabbage and lime wedges, then have diners fill and garnish their bowls as they like. Offer a simple homemade or storebought hot sauce alongside. Hot steamed rice, added to bowls before the soup is ladled in, is a satisfying addition.”
No matter where you or your people came from or where you’re going, it’s the gathering together to share a meal that connects us all. And when new people bring new flavors to the table, Nebraska is the good life, indeed.
Somali Chicken Soup
1 tablespoon neutral oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
kosher salt and ground white pepper
2 Serrano chilies, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems chopped, leaves finely chopped, reserved separately
4 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped, divided
1½ quarts low-sodium chicken broth or water
4 12-ounce bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 tablepsoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
thinly sliced radishes and/or chopped red cabbage to serve (optional)
green chili sauce, berbere sauce or other hot sauce to serve
In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chilies, garlic, coriander, cardamom, cilantro stems and half of the tomatoes. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a simmer over high. Submerge the chicken breasts, cover and cook over low until the chicken registers 160 F and is no longer pink at the thickest part, about 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and set aside to cool. Use a mesh strainer to strain the broth into a large heatproof bowl, discarding the solids, then return the broth to the pot. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-size pieces, discarding the skin and bones. Add the chicken to the broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining tomatoes, the cilantro leaves and lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lime wedges, radishes or cabbage (if using), and hot sauce.