sweet potato and chicken soup


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 4-pound chicken, preferably organic, quartered

1 large yellow onion, cut into ½-inch dice

2 large carrots, cut into ½-inch dice

4 medium celery stalks, cut into ½-inch dice

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, ribbed, and cut into ½-inch dice

1 medium yuca, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes, or use frozen yuca

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

18 teaspoon ground cumin

18 teaspoon ground achiote

8 cups water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced, or a few shakes of Tabasco (optional)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

lime halves, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until hot but not smoking. In batches, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining oil to the Dutch oven and heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, red pepper, yuca, sweet potato, cumin, and achiote. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
Return the chicken to the Dutch oven. Add the water, half of the cilantro, the jalapeño, garlic, and oregano. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a chopping board. Let cool slightly; then discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Stir the chicken back into the soup.
For each serving, squeeze a lime half into a soup bowl. Ladle in the soup, sprinkle with some of the remaining cilantro, and serve hot.