Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chicken and Rice Soup

Yield: 6-8 Full Adult Bellies

This is one of the reasons I look forward to fall and winter each year. It's stupid-easy to make and goes together fast enough to have it on a weeknight. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the ingredients are all standard items. This also makes terrific leftovers the next day. Assuming you have any, that is.

3 Tbs olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5-6 carrots
5-6 ribs celery
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 packages Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice (not quick-cooking or Ready Rice)
6 cups chicken stock*
6 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts, add to the waiting oil and brown on each side. Allow them to cook fully through.

While the chicken is doing it's thing, chop the veggies. Dice the onion, slice the carrots and celery. Mince the garlic.

Transfer the cooked chicken, which is a lovely golden brown and just a little crispy around the edges by now, to a cutting board to cool off a bit. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic to the pot you just took the chicken out of. Salt lightly. Add the bay leaves and pepper.

Strip the leaves from the thyme by holding the stem at the top and dragging your fingers against the direction of growth. Do the same thing to the rosemary and mince them together (or just mince the rosemary and leave the thyme leaves whole), add herbs to the pot. Saute veggies until the onions are translucent and the carrots are just beginning to soften around the edges.

Chop or shred the chicken breasts and return to the pot. Open the rice boxes, remove the seasoning packets and set aside. Add the rice to the pot and stir to combine. Add the contents of both seasoning packets, stir.

Add chicken stock to the pot. Add the water a couple of cups at at time until the rice and veggies are well covered. Stir. Cook over medium-high heat until the rice is done, adding additional water or stock to the pot as needed. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. As soon as the rice is fully cooked, you're ready to eat.

*Homemade stock is always best but if it's not available get the good, all-natural stuff in the paper carton. Make sure to choose a low-sodium variety because the seasoning packet that comes with the rice is loaded with sodium. You can always add additional salt if you think it's needed but it's damned hard to take it out.

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