Friday, April 7, 2017

Best Ever Chicken Soup with Vegetables

I caught a cold last week and decided enough was enough—it was time to conquer chicken soup. Here's what resulted from a stubborn determination to make something unexpected enough to hold my foggy-brained, taste-dampened interest for an entire bowl of delicious.

6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, peeled and scored
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
Olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise and rinsed well
3-4 stalks celery
4 carrots
2 medium parsnips
1/2 bulb fennel (or 1-2 bulbs baby fennel)
3-4 thin slices fresh ginger, julienned
2/3 cups pink rice (or sub red or brown rice, or whole wheat orzo)
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the broth in a soup pot until it simmers. Add the garlic and chicken breasts and simmer 8 minutes (until tender and no longer pink). Remove pot from the heat, uncover, and let cool with the chicken sitting in the broth for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the leeks, halve the celery stalks lengthwise and slice thinly, slice the carrots, and cut the parsnips into similarly sized pieces. Slice up enough of the fennel bulb so that you have equal parts carrot, parsnip, and fennel.

Heat a wide, deep pan over medium heat. When hot, add a glug or two of olive oil, then add the leeks and a pinch or two of salt. Sauté the leeks, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, turning the heat down to low after the first couple of minutes. Add the celery, carrot, parsnip, fennel, and ginger, and turn the heat back up to medium. Continue sautéing another 7-10 minutes or until veggies are al dente, adding a bit more olive oil as needed.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the pot and place on a cutting board. Cover the pot and bring the broth back to a simmer, then add the rice and simmer for 20 minutes or however long it says on the package (brown rice will probably take 30 minutes).

While the rice is simmering, shred the chicken into pieces with a fork. Fish out the garlic cloves from the broth, mash them, and stir back in.

3 minutes before the rice is done, add the veggies, chicken, and about half of the parsley. Stir to combine and continue to simmer. Adjust salt to taste.

Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley and freshly ground pepper.

Serves 4-6.

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