April 17, 2011

My First week at DSAI : “Peruvian” Achiote Chicken Root Veg. Soup

So it was my first week at work at Diamond and Schmitt Architects. What can I say? I LOVE working there! (I’m not just saying this because my co-workers are probably looking at this right now) I’m saying it because I have a prolonged history with DSAI.

Have I ever mentioned how I love libraries? (yes this story will lead somewhere) Well… my love of libraries started when I used to go to the City of North Vancouver Library at the age of 6. I went there for story time, and then sat in on the French Immersion story time… joined the summer book club…. I read nursery rhyme after fairy tale, then jumped right into Shakespeare! (No not really… more like Beverly Clearly). Heck, I learned how to speak English in that library and I developed my love of language and movies in that library. I was raised by literary artists like Yann Martel and Chuck Palahniuk (my best friend has the best book recommendations ever). Books like Ishmael and Life of Pi really made me appreciate life’s eccentricities. My nerdiness developed in that dingy carpeted library, with weird diagonal stairs to the basement. Books oh books. How I’ve delved into escaping into a land of the happiest times ever.

How does this relate to DSAI? Well. Diamond and Schmitt designed the new City of North Vancouver Library. As if by magic (while I was away at school in Toronto) it sprung up out of no where and I spent this past summer going there almost every day. Reminiscing about the past and admiring the concrete beams, wooden detailing and sitting on the 4th floor desk area while watching people come up and down the stairs in the atrium… I was working on my portfolio as I sat there dreaming of one day working at Diamond and Schmitt.

I guess you get what you wish for!

Anyway. One thing amongst MANY others is that there are as many foodies in the office as there are architects, if not more. Every day (except for Thursdays) there’s soup! A member of the DSAI team (no one is exempt including Jack and Don) make 5 litres of soup to serve the small group of people that get there fast enough to get some, and this week, even though it was my first week, I took on the challenge! (There’s even an article in the The Star about DSAI + Soup!)

So the Culinarium (a locally sourced food distributer) donated a bag to DSAI for the soup challenge! I only had a day turn around and I did it!


For the Stock

  • One Whole Chicken
  • 3 Onions, cut into chunks (or quartered)
  • 3 Carrots cut into 1” medallions
  • 2 Turnips cut into 1” Medallions
  • A few stalks of celery
  • 2 tsp. of Whole Black Peppercorn
  • 2 Bay Leaves

For Actual Soup

  • 2 Onions, Diced
  • 2 to 3 Carrots cut into 1/4” cubes
  • 1-2 Turnips cut into 1/4 cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. of Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. of Cumin
  • 3 or 4 Potatoes, scrubbed, sliced and then diced.
  • Chicken stock from above
  • Water to cover
  • Meat from the chicken that’s been picked apart and shredded.
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic, sliced and then chopped
  • 1 bunch of Cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 2 Cans of Crushed Tomato
  • 1-2 Tbsp. of Achiote Powder (found in Kensington Market)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Served with Sour Cream and chopped green onion.

The journey from start to finish:

So the delivery from the Culinary came. They had frozen Ontario Certified Organic Chicken, Organic Beeaaaaautiful carrots, beans, Turnips, Potatoes, and Onion among other veggies and I had to miraculously turn this into soup overnight! Yikes! I was ready to take on the challenge though!

IMG_4686 IMG_4691

IMG_4692 IMG_4706 

I had to fill this container to the brim full of soup… what kind of soup? I had no idea at the time… but that’s a lot of soup! I like to live life on the edge and figure things out as I go… I figured, if all else fails.. I’d call it “Soup Surprise!”

IMG_4689 IMG_4700

IMG_4711 IMG_4704 

Don checking out the goods… and if it weren’t for that buggy. OMG I would have died carrying that bag home. Thank you SO much C for lending that to me! Life saver!

IMG_4708 IMG_4715

Yay! Ready for the challenge! It was quite the trek carrying that ginormous 30+ pound bag home… It kept saying, “ NOooo I don’t wanna gooo!!!” *flops over on its side as its center of gravity is elsewhere*


IMG_4722 IMG_4723

It had to go all that way on the street car… Woah what’s up with that bus shelter at Dundas Square? I had to make a detour as I had a Freedom By Design meeting at Rye Arch Bldg.


Ryerson Image Arts! (look at those lights!!! Awesome!) Word has it that no, it won’t be multi-coloured all the time, but will be for special occasions.

IMG_4739 IMG_4743

IMG_4744 IMG_4746

Made it home! and it’s 11pm! Oh no time’s running out and I haven’t even started yet!

IMG_4753 IMG_4754 IMG_4756 IMG_4755

The chicken thankfully defrosted! Wash and fill the container with water. Cover until JUST covering the bird. Put it on high heat.

IMG_4757 IMG_4758 IMG_4761 IMG_4762

Chop up an onion or two and make sure that they’re chunky.

IMG_4763 IMG_4764 

IMG_4765 IMG_4768

IMG_4769 IMG_4770

What beautiful carrots! Chop off the top and bottom of 2 or 3 carrots and cut them into 1” medallions. It really doesn’t matter how many carrots you put in. Just put in “enough”.

IMG_4771 IMG_4773

IMG_4775 IMG_4776

1 tsp. ish of Black Whole Peppercorn

IMG_4777 IMG_4778

1 or 2 or 3 Dried Bay Leaves. Sorry, Some people don’t like the strong taste! Well, I do.

IMG_4779 IMG_4781

Cut the end off a celery bunch and wash a few stalks. 3-4. Don’t worry about the leaves. Just cut into 1/3’rds and put’em in.

IMG_4782 IMG_4783

IMG_4784 IMG_4787

Stir around, cover and boil/ simmer for 2 hours.



Once the chicken is done and the broth is smelling and tasting yummy… at this point I turned it off and went to bed it was about 2am and needed to go to bed after a LONG day of work and then meetings. Whew!

 IMG_4798 IMG_4799

I woke up at 5:30am to finish up the chicken. At this point, the chicken was cooled enough so I set it aside.

 IMG_4797 IMG_4801

Put a strainer over a large vessel and strain all the chicken stock.

IMG_4804 IMG_4806

Squish out as much of the liquid as possible. Rinse out the pot and now the fun begins!


I ran it on all 4 cylinders because I realized at this point, that I didn’t have a pot big enough to fill 5 litres of soup. I didn’t even know if this would be 5 litres, but figured I’d just make as much as I possibly could!

IMG_4788 IMG_4789 

Dice up a few onions. I was obviously making a huge batch, so I used 3 onions, but it really doesn’t matter how many you put in. I’m going to be annoying and say, put in “enough” onions. What ever floats your boat, really!


IMG_4791 IMG_4792

IMG_4809 IMG_4810

Olive oil all your pans and pots. Then add in some of that onion in each.

IMG_4811 IMG_4812

IMG_4814 IMG_4816

Wash and dice up some carrots. I think i used about 5-6 carrots

IMG_4817 IMG_4818

IMG_4819 IMG_4821

IMG_4823 IMG_4826 

look at the colour on that one!

IMG_4829 IMG_4830

Cut up some turnips the same way and Sauté until the onion becomes aromatic and the carrot and the turnip sweat a bit.

IMG_4835 IMG_4837

IMG_4839 IMG_4840

Add in paprika. Anything ranging from 1tsp to 1 Tbsp. depending on how much soup you intend to make. Again… put in “enough” I’d say I put in about 1 Tbsp. total … probably 1tsp per pot/pan.

IMG_4842 IMG_4844

Add same amount of cumin. The trick is to be patient. Stir it around and keep watching it until the carrots are browning, the onion is happy and golden and the spices that you’ve added is getting all toasty and almost sticking to the bottom of the pan.

IMG_4846 IMG_4847 

“deglaze” with some of that chicken stock.

IMG_4851 IMG_4853

Stir around and open up a can of crushed tomatoes just so that you have open and ready to go.

IMG_4859 IMG_4854 IMG_4857 IMG_4858

Scrub, slice and dice the potato and add it in. I cut about 4-5 but you can just do 1 or 2. Again, it’s dependant on how much soup you’re making and how much you like potatoes.

IMG_4856 IMG_4860

IMG_4861 IMG_4862

Peel and slice then chop a lot of cloves of garlic and add to the pan/pot.

IMG_4863 IMG_4864

IMG_4865 IMG_4867

Once it’s simmering away and the garlic has infused itself into the soup… add in the cans of crushed tomato. Preferably, use organic, but I guess you don’t have to. I used 2.

IMG_4868 IMG_4870

Achiote! The magic ingredient. It makes it spicy, it adds depth of flavour, it has a certain sweetness about it and oh man… it’s beautiful if you use it as a meat marinade! (Mouth salivates with the thought of Peruvian BBQ….mmm…) I sprinkled about 1tsp or so in each pan.

IMG_4871 IMG_4872IMG_4876 IMG_4879

Take the leaves and separate out the stems from a bunch of cilantro (also called coriander as well as Chinese parsley)

IMG_4880 IMG_4877

IMG_4882 IMG_4883

Chop it up.

IMG_4885 IMG_4887

Add it in.

IMG_4888 IMG_4889

Wash your cutting board and clean your work area.

IMG_4890 IMG_4894

Add pepper and some salt

IMG_4900 IMG_4897 

Debone the chicken and shred.

IMG_4905 IMG_4908

Add it all in!

IMG_4911 IMG_4913

IMG_4926 IMG_4927

Once it’s been simmering for about 30 minutes, the achiote will have released all its magical powers, and the chicken will have absorbed the deliciousness of the spices in the soup. I pretty much left it to simmer while getting ready for work. Then, once it cooled a bit… The big test! Did it make enough to fill the bucket?!

IMG_4928 IMG_4930

Pot one….. then pot two…

IMG_4934 IMG_4941

Pot 3! Yay! I made enough with a pan to spare for left overs!

IMG_4939 IMG_4943

Clean the stove right away while the stove is still warm or else you’ll have to work 3 times harder getting all the tomato splatter off.

IMG_4944 IMG_4949

Packed some soup for Pablo and gave him a Ritter Chocolate surprise!

IMG_4954 IMG_4955

Now to travel BACK to DSAI. This is going to be interesting…

IMG_4958 IMG_4964

Strap it in and away we go!

IMG_4982 IMG_4996

It braved the stairs and marched on into the street car.


Look! the Four Seasons Perfoming Art Centre! Another DSAI.


IMG_5006 IMG_5008

Streetcar tracks. Man i didn’t think it was going to make it over those bumps!


Yayyy! It made it!

IMG_5025 IMG_5028

IMG_5034 IMG_5035

IMG_5040 IMG_5047

IMG_5046 IMG_5055

Ran out to get some green onion. 3 for $1!!! what a steal!

IMG_5057 IMG_5059


IMG_5069 IMG_5066 

Needs more pepper…

IMG_5067 IMG_5073

IMG_5076 IMG_5078

Serve it with some chopped green onion and sour cream.


They announced it on the PA as Peruvian Achiote Chicken Root Vegetable Soup, and I just made that name up on the spot!

IMG_5087 IMG_5089


IMG_5095 IMG_5092IMG_5090

It was quite a success! I got a shoutout from Jack Diamond over the speakers thanking me for the soup! Apparently this has only happened 3 times in the 4 years of soup history, and my coworkers kept coming up to me and emailing saying how I should feel honoured that Jack gave me a shout out! Here I thought he did that every day! hah… It kind of felt like what I imagine it would feel like getting complimented by Simon Cowell on the former American Idol!

Anyway. That was the best way to kick off the first week of work. I got to meet, dine and chat with everyone and had a great time making the soup! That’s that!


  1. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    kayeon, my mouth is watering so much! Esp. the final pictures with the sourcream+greenonions

    But I'd like to try an onionless version :3

  2. kayeon....!!! that looks delicious.
    i'm reading this when i should be working :)
    love it!!! i miss your food

    - farah

  3. Sooo, you described this to me in person....but oh man, the pictures have my mouth watering! It looks DeLICIOUS

  4. woman, that looks effing good!!!! i must get my hands on some achiote soon!

  5. I agree with Laila completely, I just finished eating and I'm ready to eat now. Thanks for posting this!