Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chicken vegetable soup

I love soup. Real soup. Not the canned soup that is made with high-fructose corn syrup (aka corn sugar) and monosodium glutamate (MSG) or yeast extract and ingredients you can't pronounce. Just a bowlful of natural, fresh ingredients.

Something I enjoy doing is delivering a meal to a mom who has recently had a baby. I belong to two mom groups locally that set up volunteer meal deliveries after someone gives birth. It's a thoughtful thing to do, a great way to be a friend, and the mom's family appreciates it. (I know I did after I had my second son!) Last week, I offered to take a meal to a family who eats "super healthy." I got a multigrain baguette for the new mom's family, and made them a simple salad and this soup. I used what I had on hand, and it turned out great! My family ate the same thing that night.

1 large can (64 oz.) of all-natural chicken or vegetable broth
4 plum tomatoes
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables and/or assorted fresh veggies of your choice
3/4 pound white chicken
1/4 cup frozen seasoning mix (diced onions and bell peppers)
1 can of small white beans, rinsed
1/4 cup of rice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup marsala wine
lemon juice

Put the chicken in a microwavable dish with a lid and pour the marsala wine over it. Think about Julia Child, who liked to cook with wine. Add a few squirts of lemon juice. Cover and cook until well done. I'd say start with three minutes and then keep checking the chicken in two-minute intervals. I have an old microwave that isn't very powerful anymore, so I can't say an exact number of minutes for this one. When the chicken is done cooking, set it aside and let it cool a bit so you can dice it later.

Wash the tomatoes, slice (I always cut off the ends), cover your ears and puree them in a blender. Combine the tomato juice and broth in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, seasoning mix (or diced onions and peppers), rice, balsamic vinegar, salt, basil and garlic. Give it a good stir. Let the soup come to a boil, then add the beans and diced chicken. Reduce the heat to low, put on the lid, and let the soup simmer for at least a half-hour. This is going to be awesome, you can just smell the awesomeness in your kitchen.

Serve the soup hot with your favorite additions (crackers? croutons? bread bowl? shredded cheese?). This makes a heckuva lot of soup.