Chicken, Wild Rice and Vegetable Sunday Soup
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The weather here in the Willamette Valley in Oregon has been absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous this Fall. Some years, the rains will start in Early September and continue through June. Gray, soggy skies get old, really fast. Often, as soon as the leaves change color, along come the rains and winds and down they come. So sad.
By contrast (knock on wood), this Fall has been mostly dry and mild, with sunny, warmish days in the 60’s and cool, crisp evenings. What Nirvana, watching the maples turn from green to gold, to orange and then red.
See the cute little chicken coop in the background? My hubby put on a new roof, trimmed it up and handmade the screen door. Love this thing!
This weekend, we totally fell off the healthy food bandwagon and indulged ourselves. Friday came crunchy ground beef tacos that I pan fried myself. Heaven. Saturday, I made won tons and pot stickers with – gasp! – ground pork, which I buy maybe once a year.
By Sunday, I was feeling a little shame-faced about our culinary sins, and decided I had to make something comforting but also good for us.
Which brings me to a very simple solution, Chicken Wild Rice Vegetable Soup with my World Famous Flaxseed 10 Grain Bread that I sautéed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I threw everything together in a pot Sunday morning and let it simmer all day. I like to get my work over and done with on Sundays, because there is a lot of food prep for the next day that bores me to tears.
I made a simple but neat discovery in the process of cooking this. Normally, I will soak my rice to remove the starches (because I hate sticky rice), then steam it and add it to the soup only then. Well, I found out that by adding rinsed, long grain rice to the soup when it’s raw, the rice exudes its starch and you end up with a creamy, thick soup, without having to add cream. Plus, it saves me a step! Vary this recipe to your heart’s content, using whatever you have on hand.
Chicken Wild Rice Vegetable Soup
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One sweet yellow onion, diced
Chopped red bell pepper
1 T minced garlic, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
6 to 8 c chicken broth or stock (you may need more)
3/4 c rinsed, raw wild rice
1/4 c rinsed, raw long grain rice
Frozen or canned corn
Salt and pepper
Chicken breast or tenders or rotisserie, cubed
Squirt of lemon, optional
Put your large dutch oven or stock pot on medium low heat (4 on a scale of 1 to 9). Add about ¼ c extra virgin olive oil, so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Add your chopped onion and a teaspoon or so of kosher salt and stir. Add chopped carrots, celery and red bell pepper. Keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.
Add the garlic, bay leaves and thyme and stir for a minute or two.
Now add 6 c chicken stock or broth. You can use homemade, boxed, canned or the powdered or paste stuff that comes in a jar. Just don’t buy the stuff that says “chicken flavored.” (ugh)
Now add the rinsed wild rice and rinsed long grain rice. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil and then reduce to a nice simmer. Cover your pot, making sure it’s not boiling under that lid. Check on the soup from time to time, adding more broth if it’s getting too thick. Make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
About 20 minutes before serving, add your cubed chicken. I just cubed it raw, and then threw it in. Now add some peas and corn and anything else you’d like to add (black beans, maybe? It’s all up to you!).
When the chicken is cooked through (don’t overcook it!), taste and adjust your salt and pepper. Don’t forget to remove those bay leaves! If you like lemon with thyme, add a squirt at the last minute.
Now pour a glass of wine, set the table, and grab the soup bowls. I always nuke them so they’ll be nice and warm.
Slice your favorite bread, heat up a skillet and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Saute on both sides, until the color is something you’re happy with. The outside will be nice and crispy and the inside will be chewy and light.
Ladle the soup into the bowls, pass the bread and enjoy. There you have it: perfect, easy and healthy comfort food for a beautiful Fall evening.
p.s. If you want to freeze leftovers, wait until the soup has cooled. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Label a one gallon freezer bag with a sharpie, telling your future self what the heck that stuff is in there, and don’t forget to date it! Now push out the air and seal up. Lie it flat and place it on the cookie sheet. Find a level spot in your freezer and leave it overnight. Next day (or week), remove and store the frozen bag in your freezer with the rest of your frozen leftovers.
In an effort to avoid working out, I reorganized my freezers today. I put all my flat, frozen freezer bags standing upright in plastic containers. The tops of the bags are all labeled, so I can just flip through them, as though they were actual file folders (if you don’t know what a file folder is, I’m in trouble here). By seeing the dates, I can then choose from the oldest ones, thereby keeping the system up to date. I did discover some old, frozen rice and garbanzo beans that looked like they’d seen better days. (They had). Meh. I just brought them into the house, plopped them into a sink full of warmish water and thawed them. The chickens didn’t mind the year-old beans and rice. In fact, they went a little nuts. This is a total waste of good food, in a way, because these things were at the bottom of a big pile of stuff I’d thrown in there. Hence, the new filing system of frozen meals! Try it, you’ll like it.