Chicken and Rice Soup

I think the seasons are finally catching up with the calendar. Temps are consistently ranging from cold to colder and there is snow on the mountains. That means it’s also prime season for just about everyone to get sick. And although the science is inconclusive, chicken soup just has a way of making us feel better.

It’s very much as Steinbeck wrote in East of Eden, “The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.” So give in to the lore and make yourself a pot of soup, chicken or otherwise, even if you’re feeling fine – it sure can’t hurt.

roastchicken

I was roasting a chicken (for another upcoming Everyday Chef topic) and couldn’t just let the remaining meat and bones go to waste. That wouldn’t be wise. Instead, I pulled off the meat that was left on the bones and saved it for the soup. I then broke up the bones a bit and browned them in a little oil in a large pot. I added a few vegetables I had hanging around – onion, carrot, celery – with a bunch of thyme and covered the contents in water. The pot was left to simmer – not boil, for a couple of hours. Sure, it’s a little time intensive, but not effort. I let this simmer while I did other things. Afterwards, I drained out the solids (you don’t want to use the vegetables or bones directly for the soup at this point, all the flavor has already been drained) and had about four quarts of one nice stock.

broth

Once you have your stock ready to go you’re all set for the soup. If you aren’t using your soup right away the stock can store for about a week in the fridge and a couple of months in the freezer. The longer you let it set, however, the less flavor it will have.

Or, if you’re using broth from the store – that’s fine too. But what’s the difference between stock and broth anyway?

  • Stock is made primarily with the bones, as described. It tends to have a richer taste and texture.
  • Broth is made primarily with the meat and this is typically what you find in stores. And it is really easy to enhance store bought broth. Just simmer it with some cut up vegetables for however long you have.

chickensoupvegetables

Chicken Soup with Rice

As always, use this recipe as a loose guide. I like my soup heavy on the veggies and in this case, low on the meat. I used rice here, but any grain or pasta can work. I would suggest cooking separately and adding in at the end to avoid having it plump up and take over your soup. Make it how you like.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 – 2 cups of other favorite vegetables, chopped (optional – I used turnips and rutabega)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken broth or stock
small bunch of thyme
1 cup + chopped, cooked chicken
kosher salt
small bunch of parsley, chopped
lemon juice
2 cups cooked rice or other grain

Start cooking your rice, grain or pasta separately as you would typically to make two cups.

In a large pot, saute the onions, celery, carrot, garlic and other vegetables with the bay leaf. Let cook for about ten minutes and season with salt, to your liking. When everything is mostly tender, pour in the broth or stock with the thyme. Simmer for 20 minutes, tasting and stirring once in a while. Add the chicken and simmer 5 minutes more. If you have some additional, frozen veggies you want to mix in, like corn, this is a good point to do so. Add a splash of lemon juice – this really helps bring out the flavor – and the parsley. Stir. Adjust seasoning, if needed. Turn off the heat. Ladle the soup into bowls and mix some rice into each.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

What’s better than roasted squash on a fall day? Combine it with some fresh apple cider and make soup.

I was having friends over for dinner two nights this weekend and made up a large batch of this to serve as first courses for both. I don’t often serve full, proper courses for dinner, but I have winter squash hiding out in every corner of my small apartment. And yet, I still buy more. There are so many great varieties and uses, I can contentedly eat it for the next six months.

This soup has an interesting ingredient – Worchestshire sauce. In case you’ve ever wondered -Worcestershire Sauce, dating back to the 19th century, is an English blend of brined anchoviess, tamarinds (an Indian date-like fruit), molasses, garlic, vinegar, chilies, cloves, shallots and sugar. It’s an interesting and yet underutilized staple ingredient. So, no wonder, it would add a nice boost to this, and probably, most soups.

Fresh sage helps make this kind of awesome as well. Again, another ingredient I don’t take advantage of often enough. When I do use them, I like to saute them up in a pan with a little oil and fry until crisp. Fried sage leaves would make an excellent garnish to this soup.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

serves 8

4 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium )
8-10 sage leaves; chopped
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
splash of maple syrup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot; minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes; or more to taste
splash of heavy cream
1 large apple; finely diced

Preheat oven to 425 F. Halve each butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with sage, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Dot with butter. Roast 45-1 hour until the squash is tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then scoop out flesh.

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot. Add in shallot and sauté over medium-low heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in scooped out butternut squash, chicken stock, apple cider, brown sugar, Worcestershire, nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender. Return to pot, taste and adjust seasonings. At the last minute, stir in heavy cream and serve garnished with diced apple, fried sage leaves, or a spoonful of Greek yogurt, swirled.

Adapted from thekitchn.com.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

I was happy to see several farmers with baskets of large green bell peppers last week at market.  My garden peppers were unusually small this year for whatever reason and I had yet to have a nice stuffed pepper this summer. I grabbed a bunch of these and some ground beef, all set to go. But when it actually came time to make them, after seven one night during the week, I just didn’t have enough time to devote. I looked for similar, alternate options and came across a recipe for stuffed pepper soup. I was skeptical, but the result mirrored the flavors of a stuffed pepper almost completely and took half the time to prep. I cooked a small pot of quinoa, instead of taking the longer amount of time to cook rice, separately and added that in to my bowl before eating. I guess it proves that almost anything can be turned into a soup.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
3 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf
1 quart stock
28 ounces crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 cup grains or small cut pasta
a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
grated Parmesan cheese for topping

If using a quick cooking grain, prepare separately in a small pot according to standard directions. Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat with the olive oil. When hot, add the beef and season with salt, pepper and the allspice. Cook the meat until browned, about 5 minutes, then add the onions, garlic, peppers and bay leaf. Cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. When boiling, add in pasta, if using, and cook until al dente. Turn off the heat and fold in the basil leaves. Remove bay leaf. Serve. If you used a grain, add in desired amount to each bowl. Top with the Parmesan. Serves 4 – 6

Jill’s Winter Squash Soup

This winter squash soup can be made with any type of winter squash.  The cooking time, start to finish, is longer than that of the Diva’s Winter Squash Soup due to the baking time – making this a great recipe for the weekend or a day you get home from work early, so you can do other things while the squash bakes.  Since I almost always use knobby-textured buttercup, kachoba, or red kuri squash for this recipe, baking the squash prevents me from having to peel it!

 

 

 

  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 lbs squash (butternut, buttercup, kabocha, red kuri, or blue hubbard are good varieties to use)
  • 3+ cups of water
  • ½ cup cream or half and half
  • 1 tbs maple syrup or dark brown sugar
  • pinch of nutmeg

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Poke several fork holes in the skins of each side of the squash, and place face down in a baking dish with ½ inch of water.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until skin is browned and collapsed in a couple of places.  Remove from oven, and when cool enough, scoop squash out of skins into a bowl.  Set aside.  (This can be done up to a day ahead.)  In a heavy–bottomed stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter until foaming, and then sauté shallot or onion until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add squash and 3 cups of water to the pot and bring to a simmer, stirring often.  (Optional:  Once combined, turn off heat, and ladel into a food processor or blender to puree.  Pour pureed soup back into pot.)  Add cream and maple syrup and stir to combine over low heat.  Note:  Do not boil the soup once the cream has been added.  Serve and enjoy.