Avocado Adds Amazing To Chicken Soup

The avocado is a nutrition powerhouse  FOREST AND KIM STARR PHOTO

The avocado is a nutrition powerhouse

Erin Maile Bortles O’Keefe grew up on Oahu overlooking Maunalua Bay, where she enjoyed watching humpback whales every January through March. Her studies took her to New York City, where she fell in love with husband Kevin. Together they travel and teach all over the world, spending two months each year here in Hawaii.

“Kevin loves Hawaii,” explains Erin, “and I need to stay connected to my ohana and Hawaiian heritage.”

Erin and Kevin combined teaching paths to create a practice they call Human Art of Play (aka Circus Yoga). It is a multigenerational program that helps people connect to their innate abilities and to one another through physical play. Borrowing freely from circus arts (Kevin founded Circus Minimus in 1985), yoga, theatre and dance, they have facilitated groups in play that bring diverse people together through a shared experience of inclusion, connection, co-authorship and play.

They’re offering a two-hour workshop March 6 for ages 7 to 107 at Yoga Hawaii in Kaimuki. Absolutely no experience is required, except your human form. Check out Erin and Kevin’s educational programs and performances at CircusYoga.org and CircusMinimus.com.

Here, Erin shares one of her favorite recipes with MidWeek readers. It’s her take on Mexican chicken soup. She loves to make a huge pot of it along with lilikoi margaritas for “kanikapila night” with her aunties.

Avocado comes from the Aztec word abuacalt, and later the Spanish word aguacate.

Nutritionally, avocados are an excellent source of potassium and folic acid, as well as a good source of vitamin B6. They also contain lesser amounts of vitamins A and C, niacin, magnesium, pantothenic acid, copper and zinc. Despite its high fat content, it is easy to digest because it contains a number of enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of fats. The avocado is a very nutritious and energizing food, and is said to be good for the stomach and the intestines.


This recipe is a standard in our household. It’s comforting, nutritious and flavorful. We’ll make a big pot of it and serve a crowd or have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a couple of days. The balance in this recipe is pretty good, but if you are feeling adventurous, try adding pickled red onions, salsa verde or shredded cabbage.

• 1 large whole chicken
• 4 carrots, halved lengthwise and width-wise
• 1 large onion, quartered
• 1/2 to 1 tablespoon salt (use less for low sodium, or to taste)
• 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (basmati)
• 1 slivered jalapeño, to taste (I often remove the seeds)
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
• 2 avocados, halved in skin, then spooned out
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• 3 limes, quartered
• coarsely cracked fresh black pepper, to taste
Hawaiian salt, to taste

Rinse chicken. Place chicken, carrots, onion and salt in a large soup pot and add about 16 cups of cold water to cover chicken. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Skim off any foam that appears. Transfer chicken to a large bowl to cool. (*See below.) Remove and discard carrots and onions. Add rice and jalapeño to broth and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred chicken meat in chunks, discarding skin and bones. Add meat and pepper to broth and heat for 3 minutes.

Scoop avocado into individual bowls and ladle soup over the top. Sprinkle with cilantro and squeeze lime. Add a little Hawaiian salt and cracked pepper on top.

*For cooks who love a richer broth, add the skin and bones back into the broth and cook for another hour or two before straining the broth.