Recipe: chhankha de pollo (Bolivian chicken broth soup)

Bolivian chicken broth

I hanker for chhankha

I’ve been feeling a bit peely-wally today, ken, so I’ve made myself invalid soup (with real invalids! J/k). No, not cock-a-leekie, but its Bolivian cousin, chhankha de pollo.   I learned to make this from some schoolteachers and learned to eat it when I was deathly hungover and parched in the strong Andean sun. Bolivians know how to deal with hangovers: they like deep bowls of broth, piping hot so the grease is all dissolved, made from sheep’s head or cow’s foot or anything else that’s no fun to eat unless its been boiling for a few hours and sometimes not even then. Well, I never got in the habit of scooping the tender flesh off half a boiled sheep’s head, but when i’m a little under the weather it’s chhankha de pollo that does the trick. First the recipe, imperfectly remembered. You need chicken legs, white rice, potatoes, onions with long green tops (spring onions will probably do) and broad beans.

Separate the onions from their tops, and finely dice the root. Place it in a saucepan with the chicken legs. Cover them with water, topping up steadily as you go along.

– Simmer a chicken leg, or one for each person, with the onion in clear water until it makes a broth. Season with salt and a stock cube if you want.

– Cook white rice in a separate pot.

– Add peeled potatoes, cut into largish chunks, to the chicken broth.

– When the chicken and potatoes are done and the broth is chickeny, add peeled broad beans and the sliced green tops of the onions. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the beans are done.

– Dollop the rice into the bottom of soup bowls and serve the broth, complete with chicken leg and onion greens, on top.

It’s difficult to get onions with their tops on in the UK, even in London, so I used leeks and substituted Jersey Royals for the delicate, round pink-and-white imilla papa used in Cochabamba. I also did the rice in a rice cooker, o decadent me. But the chhankha is as simple and nourishing as I remember it. Try it, you’ll feel better.

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Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 9:55 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This food looks delicious.. thanx for the recipes, i’ll try it 😀

  2. This recipe is wrong, sorry!! Chank’a de pollo is a delicious soup, but doesn’t have any rice. You probably need to comeback to Bolivia an get the right recipe.

    • I definitely need to come back to Bolivia, you’re right 🙂 All I can say is that the people who taught me to make it there used rice.


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