Arroz aguado is a variation on the traditional Nicaraguan chicken soup, which is laden with an assortment of seasonal vegetables and bone-in chicken pieces. Yerba buena, a more rustic cousin of mint, as well as cilantro are added to the soup, which adds a distinctive note to the soup and differentiates it from American soups.
Arroz aguado translates into "soft rice," and, despite the inclusion of chicken and vegetables, it's the presence of rice that defines the dish and turns it from soup into stew. Rather than add cooked long grain white rice to the soup when it's finished, it is incorporated in the earliest stage of preparation to guarantee rather blown-out, "soft" grains.
This one-pot meal is easy to assemble and more nurturing than a can of chicken noodle soup. Satisfying in its simplicity, and perfect for when you're feeling run down.
Note: When reheating leftovers, add a bit more chicken broth as the rice will continue to absorb liquid as it sits.
- For the stew:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch-thick slices (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 whole canned plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick slices, plus 2 tablespoons liquid
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise (about 1 pound total)
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 12 ounces total)
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 10 to 12 stems fresh cilantro with leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh mint
- 3 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch-thick pieces crosswise (about 1 cup)
- For the Assembly
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1 ripe avocado, cut into1/4 inch cubes
- Pickled jalapeño chiles, to taste
Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes and juice, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until onion is softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pot. Add broth, water, rice, cilantro, and mint. Bring to a boil over high heat, then, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, skimming surface from time to time. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. With tongs, remove chicken and place in bowl. Remove and discard cilantro and mint.
Stir potatoes and zucchini into pot and cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, using 2 forks, carefully remove and discard chicken skin and bones. Shred chicken and return to pot. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Serve in bowls and garnish with mint and cilantro. Serve with limes, avocado, and jalapeños.
large pot or Dutch oven, tongs