Dowjic–A Soup For All Seasons

I was supposed to be getting directions to The History Theatre in St. Paul.  However, a link on the theatre web site to nearby restaurants caught my eye, and suddenly I was reading about “a great and mighty Kurdish tribe called the Babanis.”  Five hours later we were at Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant on St. Peter Street in St. Paul.   Everything we tried was delicious.

For a first course Jerri ordered Babani’s version of tabouli salad made with couscous rather than bulgur, and I tried Dowjic, a chicken rice soup described as having a tangy bite that “has traditionally kept many a Kurdish traveler from wondering too far from home.”  I didn’t get a taste of the tabouli, but when Jerri sampled the dowjic, she said, “This is really good.”  And then, “You should try to make this.”

So I searched the web, found some recipes and experimented with them until I had a version that we thought was as good or even better than that wonderful soup we first had at Babani’s.   Chicken and rice soup is wonderful on a cold winter day, but lemon, basil and yogurt make dowjic a light and refreshing soup for all seasons.  Here is how to make it.


1 chicken bouillon cube
Black pepper
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked rice
Juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons (about 3 T)
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 T finely chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried crushed basil


Put the chicken breast in a saucepan with enough water to cover the meat.  Add the bouillon cube and a dash of black pepper.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer slowly for 9 to 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow the meat to finish poaching in the hot liquid for another 10 minutes while you are starting the soup.  Remove the chicken to a plate to cool and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

In a large pan or pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil, then add the rice and lemon juice. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. With a fork or wire whisk, beat the egg until lemon colored in a medium size bowl and then beat in the yogurt.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, very slowly add one cup of the simmering stock to the yogurt, whisking constantly to prevent the yogurt and egg from curdling.  Whisk the yogurt mixture into the  broth.

Add the chicken, salt and basil.  Stirring frequently, heat the soup over low heat until it is steaming, but do not boil. Taste and add a little more lemon juice or salt if needed.

NOTE.  When I squeeze a lemon for this soup, I remove the seeds but leave the pulp in the juice.  About 3 tablespoons suits our taste, but you may want a little more or less. In an emergency, you can use reconstituted juice.   This soup is great for lunch too!

Mom’s Boiled Dinner

Winter in our home meant soup at least a couple of times a week when I was growing up. One of our favorites was boiled dinner.   While many boiled dinner recipes call for serving the meat and vegetables on a platter and saving the broth to make a soup later, our boiled dinner was the soup.

My mother’s recipe for boiled dinner started with a meaty ham bone or a large smoked pork hock.  Usually she used the bone from a picnic ham, since she liked the economy of buying a picnic ham, roasting it for dinner and having leftover ham to slice for breakfast and sandwiches.   She usually saved the skin from the ham and put it into the soup pot along with the bone to enrich the broth.

After breakfast she would put the ham bone in the pot, cover it with water and bring it to boiling, then move it off to the back corner of the stove to simmer until she had time to add the vegetables later in the day.

My sister Patsy theorizes that the reason mom’s boiled dinner always tasted so good was the long slow simmering it received on the back of the wood stove in winter.  And when supper time arrived, there was fresh bread with sliced ham or summer sausage for sandwiches.

Like most soup recipes, boiled dinner can be made with many variations, but here is a good way to start.


A meaty ham bone or smoked pork hock
3 or 4 quarts water
3 stalks celery
3 carrots
1 medium onion (2 – 3 inches in diameter)
3 medium potatoes
1 small cabbage (4 – 5 inches in diameter) or half of a larger cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste


Put the ham bone or hock in a soup pot or Dutch oven and cover it with water.   Bring it to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for at least 2 hours.   Clean and chop the celery, carrots and onion into half inch pieces.   Peel the potatoes and cut into inch cubes. Add these vegetables and simmer for an hour.   Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning.

Remove the ham bone from the pot.   Let it cool until it is easy to cut off the meat and return the meat to the pot.   Wash the cabbage, removing any damaged outer leaves, and cut it into eighths.   Add the cabbage to the pot about 20 minutes before serving and simmer until tender but not mushy.

Wonderful with a green salad and fresh bread for sandwiches.

NOTES:   You can replace the ham bone or hock with 2 cups chopped ham and three bouillon cubes.   I use two chicken cubes and one beef cube when I do this and add three or four whole cloves.   You can also use two smoked turkey drumsticks.