The other day I decided that I would make Sabannikh for lunch. Sabaanikh tranlastes in English to Spinach, but Sabaanikh is also the name given to the dish spinach and chicken soup. The soup is really yummy and very easy to make.
There are only a handful of ingredients that go into the soup – onion, garlic, chicken, spinach, tomato paste and chicken stock. With such few ingredients the process of making the soup is really quick. Living in Jordan the preparation is not so quick – let me explain.
When you buy spinach here it doesn’t come prewashed and prepackaged in bags ready to use straight away. Buying spinach here means that you get spinach in bulk……..and with half the dirt from the farm it was picked from. It’s fresh having been picked that morning from the farm.
So before I can get onto making the soup I have to deal with a mountain of spinach. Picking the leaves from the steams and washing and rinsing, washing and rinsing, and washing and rinsing before I have got a pile of clean ready to use spinach leave take anywhere up to an hour.
Think of me next time you open your prepackaged, ready to use bag of spinach leaves that you have bought to make your dish.
So onto the soup……
In a medium saucepan brown 1 large diced onion and a pinch of salt in olive oil until translucent. Add minced/finely chopped garlic cloves from a whole head of garlic (this is how I’ve been taught to make it and whilst it seems like a lot of garlic it works – but feel free to reduce the quantity). Add 6-8 skinless chicken pieces on the bone and about half a cup of water (legs, thighs work well) and cook for a couple of minutes until the outside of the chicken is cooked. Chop 2 large bunches of english spinach leaves (could use frozen spinach if you don’t have fresh) and add with 2 chicken stock cubes and enough water to cover all the chicken. Add 4-5 tablespoons of tomato paste (more if you want a richer tomato flavour) and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 30 minutes until chicken is cooked.
To eat the Jordanian way a plate of cooked white rice is placed in the middle and each quest is given a bowl of soup and a lemon wedge. The soup is seasoned with the lemon and then spoonfuls are put onto the rice and then the soaked rice is spooned back up and eaten. Just as delicious without the rice.