Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Here's a simple soup recipe that was a hit with everyone in the family.

Soup is a very flexible and forgiving dish to cook. You can freely substitute types of vegetables and meat, and adjust quantities for your tastes. Add cooked beans instead of the meat for a vegan version.

Fill a 4-quart or larger pot about half-full with water or soup stock.

Put in:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken (I used 7 chicken thighs)
1/2 teaspoon salt (1 teaspoon if water is used instead of chicken stock. You may need more salt if the chicken is not pre-salted--I use Foster Farms frozen chicken, which has salt added)
1/4 tsp pepper or to taste

As you add ingredients, keep adding enough water or soup stock (chicken or vegetable broth) to cover generously. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cut up and add any vegetables of your choice. This time I used:

2 carrots
1 peeled kholrabi bulb and 2 or more kholrabi leaves (A kholrabi bulb is about the size of a child's fist. You can substitute any other bulb vegetable, such as a small turnip, rutabaga or part of a jicama, along with a few leaves of any dark green leafy vegetable.)
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 stalks celery
1 or more bok choy leaves (you can substitute cabbage)

As you may have noticed, I listed the firmest vegetables first. They take longer to cook, so go ahead and add them as you chop them up. You'll want to bring the water to a boil after adding the carrots and kholrabi, and cook over medium-high (6 or 7 on a scale of 1-10) heat for 5-10 minutes or more while you cut up the other vegetables. Add the bok choy last, because it cooks faster than the other items.

After the chicken has been cooking for a while, if you didn't cut it up before adding it initially, take the pieces out and cut into bite-sized chunks, then add them back in to the soup.

Simmer over medium-low heat (3-4) until chicken is thoroughly cooked and vegetables are tender, 30-45 minutes. If you want to cook it longer you can turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 1 to 3 hours.

Serves 4 to 6

This is good served with noodles or a cooked grain. You can add these directly to the soup shortly before serving, or serve them separately and let each person add the desired amount. I served buckwheat noodles with this soup. Alternatively, you could serve bread or muffins on the side.

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