Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brazilian Chicken Soup (Canja de Galinha)

The Thais have Tom Kha Gai, the Malays Sup Ayam, the Serbians Kokosja Supa and my little, half-Brazilian kiddos often savor one of my homeland specialties, “Cangela”.

My mom has been making Brazilian chicken soup for my kids since they started eating solids and they love it! In Brazil, chicken soup is called Canja but in my kids "Portu-English" it became “Cangela”. But don’t be fooled, the Brazilian chicken soup served in my house is the real thing despite my kids cute nickname for it.

This post wasn't brought about by my kids, but rather by a friend who showed me some Brazilian recipes she had found on the Web as she wants to put together a Brazilian dinner. I was shocked at some of those recipes, including a pseudo-Brazilian chicken soup. It made me think about all the silly things we see on the Internet that we take as truth and never contemplate that what we are reading could quite possibly be a farce. We really need to be wary of all sorts of wild Web claims, including recipes that are presented as true adaptations of delicious local fare when in reality they are nothing of the sort.

I want to leave you with some tips for recognizing if a proclaimed Brazilian recipe is the real thing or not. In Brazil, avocado is considered a fruit eaten as dessert. Any savory dish that asks for avocado is most likely from somewhere else. Cilantro is mainly used with fish and seafood dishes, for other dishes parsley is preferred. Coconut is popular but (non sweetened) coconut milk is used for savory dishes and coconut flakes are left for desserts. These tips have helped steer my friend in a truer direction. I hope this entry helps you fellow-foodies remember to be careful of where you get your "authentic" recipes from on the Internet.

As I leave you with my mother's recipe for “cangela”, I am headed to my summer-filled Brazilian kitchen where I will be spending a few weeks. If there are any recipes I can get you while in Brazil, let me know here or e-mail:

Canja de Galinha (Brazilian Chicken Soup)

This is actually a light version of “canja” done for my children with skinless organic chicken breast. If you prefer to use whole chicken go ahead and adjust the remaining ingredients for your quantity. Real Brazilian chicken soup has rice as an ingredient and most often carrots and potatoes as well.

Serves my four kids well!

About ½ chicken breast, cut in small cubes or strips
½ cup rice
½ onion, diced small
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 large potato, peeled and diced small
Extra virgin olive oil
1 parsley bouquet* (optional)
1 Halal chicken bouillon (optional)
About 6 to 7 cups of water (if using bouillon) or same amount of chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in pressure cooker, add onion, chicken, rice, carrots, potato and Halal chicken bouillon if using. Sauté for about 2 minutes stirring frequently.

Add parsley bouquet (optional) and about 6 cups of water. Lock lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Cook for 8 minutes. Release pressure according to manufacturer's directions. Remove lid.

Add salt, pepper to taste and if needed 1 more cup of water. Cook for a couple of minutes more.

* Parsley bouquet = After washing some parsley branches, tie them with a piece of cooking string.


  1. This recipe is exactly like the one my grandma makes! Its such a relief to find authentic food on the net. You are right, finding the real deal out there is very hard! Calling grandma to find recipes in her thousands of little folded papers is even harder!
    Im not sure about the avocado in the soup! I have never heard of anything like it! Brazilian avocados are much bigger than the american version and very sweet. We used to blend it with a little bit of condensed milk for a delicious (and caloric) mousse or just blend with plain milk for a -full of energy- snack! I have never heard of any brazilian food that includes avocado. Same with coconut. And I have to agree with you about cilantro. I cant smell the thing without thinking of mama's (peixada) brazilian dish made with fish and vegetables. I cant remember any non seafood items containing cilantro.
    Thanks for posting this one! I need to try it one of these days! It seems too delicious to pass!

  2. MasyaAllah sister! I love this, here in Malaysia we call them by various name. 'Congee' is what the chinese here calls it, to some 'Bubur Nasi (Rice Porridge)', West coast of malaysia call them 'Moi'...Regardless...this is my favorite meal whenever i'm down with the flu...This is like the exact same recipe i use for my 'bubur nasi'. You should try them with salted dried carrot/salted duck egg/salted dried fish. It adds the kick...
    Thank you for posting this!

  3. Thanks Marina!
    Thanks Hajar for all this wonderful info! I never heard of salted dried carrot but it sounds intriguing, I have to find out where I can get it. I've been to Malaysia but have no recipes from there. I would love one day to try to make one you send me ;-)


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