Monday, December 31, 2012

Souping up some warmth

It's cold out. And snowing raining. What's a girl to do on a dreary wet Saturday afternoon? Make soup. Duh.

There's just something about a steaming bowl of deliciousness that drives the chill away. While we are on the subject of rain, why does it always start with snow and then turn to rain here in good ol' Maryland? The snow is pretty. The rain is not. I would much rather have snow than rain, any day of the week.

This soup was the perfect accompaniment to my afternoon. I slept for 12 hours (!!) and had a very leisurely morning reading in bed, which frankly, is the perfect Saturday morning, in case anyone was wondering. I almost never sleep that long either, I must have been really really tired! The holidays took a lot out of me. I needed some quality bed-bonding time.

It's amazing what a game changer sleep is. You could be deathly ill and have the greatest sleep of your entire like and it's like BAM! All better now, thank you bed for curing me of my ailment. Or you've had the worst day possible at the office and couldn't even imagine having to go back to that hell-hole tomorrow. A solid 8 hours and BAM! You're bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning.

Let me explain the above picture. These are Parmesan rinds. Aren't they cute? Yeah, not so much. Anyways...They are very very helpful in cooking, especially soup-making. And they couldn't be easier, just throw them into whatever you're cooking, let it sit and simmer away and then remove! See, easy! They give soups and stews a wonderful Parmesan flavor, but without adding the calories cheese. You can save your Parmesan rinds or be like me, and buy a tin at Whole Foods.

Ok, enough about sleep. Can I get anymore boring, No I think not. Instead can I tell you something funny that I did while making this soup? I've made the soup, its simmered, the chicken was shredded. I'm doing my food photo thing in the kitchen and all of the sudden realize THE TOMATOES!!!! OMGGGGGGG I forgot THE TOMATOES!!! Holy guacamole! The soup was good before, but was definitely lacking something. Enter: THE TOMATOES!! The soup was perfection after that! So whatever you do, don't forget THE TOMATOES!

And another thing: before you say it. I know that this is labeled Italian Chicken Soup, but is mysteriously missing pasta. I don't like pasta. We've talked about this. I'm a freak, I know. So if you want to swap the potatoes for macaroni or some other pasta, go for it! Here are directions!

Italian Chicken Soup
Serves 4

3 Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
3 Celery stalks, diced
2 Carrots, diced
2 Shallots, finely diced
1 Red bell pepper, diced
1 15 oz can of crushed Tomatoes
4 Potatoes, skin left on, diced
4 cups Chicken broth, low sodium
1 cup Half and half (or milk)
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Garlic powder
6 tbsp Olive oil, divided
2 Parmesan rinds

1. In a slow cooked set on high cook the chicken breasts, covered liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook for 3 hours or until cooked through and easily shreddable.
2. In a large soup pot heat 2 tbsp Olive oil with the oregano for 1-2 minutes on medium-low until fragrant. Spoon into a small bowl and set aside.
3. Chop and dice the veggies and potatoes. Add to the same pot that you heated through the oregano in. Add the remaining olive oil and cook veggies for about 10 minutes until they start to soften. Add the chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Add the Parmesan rinds. Cover and cook for 1 hour.
4. Add the shredded cooked chicken, the oregano oil. Fish out the Parmesan rinds. Adjust seasonings as desired. Serve with warm crusty bread.


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