One of the things I love about the “Fall” season is a good soup simmering on the stove. It really makes a house feel like a home.
My son, who is 19, is living two hours away while he’s in school and now calls me to ask for recipes. It made me think about documenting some of them to pass along to him.
So tonight for dinner we had something I’m calling “Almost Chicken and Dumplings.” I made soup but didn’t want to stand there rolling dough for dumplings so I added a little bit of potato and rice and it gave a really nice texture and flavor. The first time I made this recipe I put in a little too much rice and it turned into a rice dish so I tried it again tonight with less rice. I used 1/4 cup of rice and it was just on the verge of being too thick so next time maybe 1/3 cup of rice will make it just right.
This is a very basic recipe: It’s simple and can be modified – instead of rice, make dumplings if you’re up to it. The rice absorbs the broth, expands and softens. My husband didn’t realize it WAS rice. LOL!
Cook time is going to be two sets of 45 minutes and one set of 20 minutes before it is ready to eat so plan accordingly. It smells wonderful while it’s cooking. Makes you feel all warm and cozy. Great for those cold winter days.
- One bunch of green onions (about 8)
Leeks are better but seem to be rather expensive these days so I have been using green onions for my soups and they seem to give it the sweetness and taste similar to leeks.
- 2-3 good sized stalks of celery. I also like to use the inside stalks with the leaves as it gives great celery flavor.
Chop fine. I don’t like to bite into celery so the finer the better.
- Fresh garlic. I like a lot of garlic so I use about 4 or 5 cloves crushed in a garlic press.
- One 32 oz container of Chicken broth. I use Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range broth because it has a strong flavor and isn’t clear and watery like some brands.
- One teaspoon sea salt
- One teaspoon Poultry seasoning
- One bay leaf
- One teaspoon fresh ground pepper corns
- 3 tablespoons butter (you can also use olive oil)
Put chopped onions, celery and garlic in pan with butter and saute (stir constantly) just until it starts getting glossy and you can see it is cooked but not browned. Paula Deen says, “Everything tastes better with a stick of butter.” So if you are cooking healthy use the olive oil. If you want the rich sweetness use butter.
Add broth and one cup of water. (if I have extra broth on hand I substitute by adding an extra cup of broth in place of the water, makes the soup have more flavor.)
Add a handful of chopped parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
Bring to boil and add:
I use the boneless chicken breast that I buy at Trader Joe’s in the frozen section.
- Baby Carrots
Small bag or about 2 cups worth
3-4 small potatoes. Don’t want to cut them too small because they will fall apart. I cut them in half or leave them whole (depends on how small.)
Stir and bring to a nice soft boil and then set the stove temperature to low. On my electric stove, I set it to “3′. Cover pot with lid and set timer to 45 minutes. Let the soup simmer with a light boil. Return after 45 minutes to check on soup and stir. Cover again and set the timer for another 45 minutes.
After the second 45 minutes are up, check on the soup. Stir a little then add about 1/3 cup of uncooked long grain rice. You don’t want to add too much rice because it will expand and absorb some of the liquid and adding too much rice will turn your soup into a rice pilaf. So unless you are looking to make rice pilaf, don’t add too much rice. I learned the hard way.
After you add the rice, stir the soup and bring to a boil again. Not a raging boil but a soft boil. Stir once more and then set the burner temperature back to low. #2 or 3 on my stove.
Cover pot and set timer to 20 minutes. Check and stir to see how the rice is cooking after time is up. You don’t want it stuck to the bottom of the pot. It should be cooked after 20 minutes so once it looks done you can add 1 cup of half and half to the soup. You can also use cream but I rarely have it handy. I use half and half for coffee so we usually have it on hand. Milk will work also but be extra careful not to curdle it.
*IMPORTANT: Cream can take boiling, but milk will break. Don’t let the soup come to a boil once the milk is added. Add the milk at the end and just heat it. If it does curdle it will still taste good but will look yucky.
You should have a flavorful, lightly rich chicken soup. The rice gets really soft as it absorbs the juice and will offer the thickness and satisfaction of noodles or dumplings without actually making dumplings. If you are up for it, then make dumplings instead of adding rice. Wild rice would be good too. I’m thinking of adding mushrooms and wild rice. There are many ways to experiment with this basic soup recipe.
The above photo had 1/4 cup of rice added and is thicker.
This time, I used only 1/3 cup of rice and liked it much better. I also cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces after it was cooked.
*One way to save a soup or sauce if you accidentally curdle the milk is to add a binder such as a roux (made from flour and butter) or a slurry (made from cornstarch and water). Add a little as a thickening agent and it should bind the milk so you don’t have the curdles.
I’m not endorsing or getting paid to talk about any products, just mentioning the ones I use because I like them best. Hey, I’m a huge Trader Joe’s fan. They are right in my neighborhood; the employees are always friendly and helpful. I love the familiar, family, local merchant feel. Plus they have great prices! If you go into my kitchen you will see Trader Joe’s brand on just about every food product. I like them. What can I say? You find a product or service you like and you stick with it. That’s how I roll.