Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I took the baby to Wisconsin this past winter to introduce her to family and friends. When I arrived at my oldest friend’s house, a heavenly smell greeted me. She had chicken and and wild rice soup in the slow cooker, which to be honest always struck me as the kind of soup grannies order from the corner café. What a strange stereotype! The rich, homey taste convinced me though, so I brought her recipe back home and adapted it to my non slow cooker having self. I’ve also cut down on the béchamel sauce as I don’t really like extremely creamy soups.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup wild rice mix (not parboiled)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and rough diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 liters (8 cups) water
  • 1 Knorr cacito de pollo (my preferred stock pots)
  • 1.5 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp adobo powder (or salt if you don’t have adobo)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 40 grams butter
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk

Instructions:

Put raw chicken (don’t bother to cut it up), rice, vegetables, water, stock and herbs/spices into a 5.5 liter dutch oven or other similar heavy pot. Heat over medium heat until the water breaks into a boil and then lower the heat until it’s just the barest simmer. Cover, stirring occasionally and allow to cook for two hours.

After two hours, fish out the chicken breasts and allow them to cool slightly in a bowl. When they are cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers or a fork and then add back to the pot.

Make the béchamel: melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. When it’s fully melted, whisk in the flour so there’s no lumps, and allow to cook stirring all the while until the roux bubbles for a couple of minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens. Add to the chicken soup and stir until completely incorporated.

 

 

 

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White Chicken Chili

It’s nearly that time of year again! Joel actually remarked to me yesterday that he’s tired of summer now and would like for it to be colder. A definite case of “beware of what you wish for!” But I tend to agree if only in that I am really hankering for some fall/winter food. It’s time for stews, casseroles, roasted vegetables and other hearty comfort food. It seems like everyone’s got a recipe for white chicken chili (my mom’s is particularly tasty) but this incarnation is a product of cupboard-scouring. Since most of the ingredients are staples (in my house at least) it makes for a quick and healthy mid-week supper.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g chicken breast, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Italian green peppers (cubanelle peppers), de-seeded and diced
  • small tin (200 g) of pickled jalapeños, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sweet pimentón (paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked pimentón
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • large jar (500 g) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (250 ml) frozen corn kernels

Heat the oil over medium heat in a soup pot or dutch oven. Lightly sauté the onions, garlic and green peppers just until they start to become soft. Stir in the jalapeños, herbs and spices. Add the raw chicken and the stock. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken chunks with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl to cool slightly. Add the corn and beans to the pot and continue to simmer. When the chicken has cooled, shred the meat with your fingers and add back to the pot. Add a bit more stock/water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Simmer for another 15 minutes over medium-low heat, occasionally stirring gently so you don’t beat up the beans. Adjust salt/pepper to taste. Serve on its own or with a bit of shredded cheddar or sour cream.

Servings: Four generous bowls. 449 calories (without added cheese, etc.)

Chicken Couscous & Shirazi Salad

Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I have kept cooking, promise! We all get into our ruts though, and recently wanted to shake things up. I’ve recently-ish discovered harissa paste, and it’s now my new favorite ingredient. The couscous is an easy one-pan meal and you can chop up the salad ingredients while it’s cooking. I also make a spicy-cool (oxymoron?) yogurt sauce that’s makes a wonderful accompaniment. It makes quite a large quantity of food, but this is definitely one of those better-the-next-day dishes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Couscous:

  • 400 g. chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • ground black pepper or five-peppercorn blend, to taste
  • chunk of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb), peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp harissa paste
  • small can (200 g approx) garbanzos, drained and rinsed
  • 200 g couscous
  • 450 ml chicken stock
  • a handful (1/3 cup) of sultanas or golden raisins
  • small handful (1/4 cup) salted sunflower seeds
  • zest of one lemon

Salad:

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • red pepper
  • large handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Yogurt sauce:

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep frying pan. Sauté the onions until they start to soften then add in the chicken and garlic. Cook the chicken and onions for about 5 minutes. At this point add in the harissa paste, grated ginger and spices. Stir to coat the chicken and onion mix with the spices. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the chickpeas (gently – don’t smush them) and let cook for another minute. Pour the couscous, raisins and sunflower seeds over the chicken mix. Pour the stock over and stir once, then cover the pan with a lid or tin foil and leave to sit for 10 minutes, until the couscous has soaked up all the stock. Remove the lid and sprinkle the lemon zest over the couscous and then fluff the mix up with a fork. Cover the pan back up and let rest until ready to serve.

To make the salad: Chop the red pepper and tomatoes. Peel, de-seed and chop the cucumbers. Toss with the sea salt and lemon juice and place in a medium bowl. After about 10 minutes, drain the excess liquid off the salad. Stir in the mint leaves and serve.

Yogurt sauce: stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and put in the fridge to let the flavors blend.

Serve the couscous with a side of salad and a nice dollop of the yogurt sauce.

Four generous servings. 450 calories.

Chicken Pot Pie

Pie! Pot pie! Cutie pie! Joel and I can’t  say the word “pie” without shouting it, I guess to show off our enthusiasm for pie. We sound like Cartman from South Park.

A savoury pie makes for a great one-dish meal in the winter time.  This recipe doesn’t include a homemade bottom and top short-crust because I have little patience. In effect it’s a casserole topped off with yummy puff pastry. I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart, but have  made a considerable number of modifications, particularly in cutting down the amount of chicken and increasing the veg.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • Two carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 cup (approx 200 g) peeled and cubed sweet potato (or parsnip, turnip, swede, etc.)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large leek, washed and trimmed (white and light green parts only), split lengthwise and chopped roughly
  • 2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon each thyme & rosemary*
  • 2 TB all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp paprika (I use pimentón de la Vera)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 300 ml semi-skim (1%) milk
  • 1 cacito de caldo de pollo (or 1 chicken stock cube)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1 package masa de hojaldre (puff pastry)

* I have rosemary and thyme plants, so I used a sprig of each (stem removed and coarsely chopped) but dried works just fine. You can even use 1/2 tsp of herbs de provence.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken and brown lightly on all sides. When the chicken is browned add the chopped onion, leek, shallots, herbs, spices, carrots and potatoes. Sauté until the carrots are crisp tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. (The flour will become pasty like a roux.) Gradually add the milk, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add the frozen peas and stock cube, and then cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mix starts to thicken.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Pour mix into a 8×8 square casserole dish or a deep round pie plate. Unroll the puff pastry and lay over the top of the chicken and veg mixture. Don’t worry if there’s excess pastry that flops over the side of the casserole dish – the pastry will contract as it bakes. Prick the pastry in a couple of places with a fork so that steam can escape.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbling. Let the potpie set for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Servings: Four. 540 calories, approx.

Moroccan Chicken Stew

I wanted something hearty yet healthy, but not the typical chili or beef stew. (Not that I don’t love chili or beef stew!) I tinkered with the ingredients and swapped out beef for chicken and came up with this version. Joel did a happy dance while eating, so I guess it’s a winner!

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams chicken breast, cut into 2 inch “tacos”
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about a cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 doble caldo stock cube
  • a handful (200 g approx) of Aragón, Empeltre or pitted Kalamata olives*
  • 1/2 cup sultanas or golden raisins
  • large jar of garbanzos (400 g), drained
  • smallish eggplant, trimmed and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 1 TB paprika (I use pimentón dulce)
  • 1 tsp pimentón de la vera (hot)
  • 1 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 2 rounded tsp cumin
  • 1 rounded tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

*Note: I can’t find pitted Kalamata olives here without going on an odyssey so I use Aragón olives and use caution not to chip a tooth.

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and throw in the chicken to brown over medium-high heat. When it’s browned turn down the heat and add onions, shallots and garlic. Sauté until transparent. Add the eggplant and carrots and sauté some more until the eggplant starts to soften. Add stock cube, spices and a couple of cups of water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add olives, raisins and garbanzos, add water if necessary. Stir thoroughly but don’t beat up the garbanzos too much. Allow to simmer for at least 15-20 minutes more over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The last couple of minutes add the lemon zest and stir to warm through. Serve with fresh cilantro and a simple couscous salad if desired.

Servings: Six, approximately. 359 calories per serving.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Moroccan-Beef-Stew-234422