Friday, April 8, 2011

Nothin' Could Be Finer .... Than Comforting Chicken Vegetable Soup

I've been humming "Nothin' Could Be Finer Than To Be in Carolina" most of the day.  This past week I spent several days in warm, sunny Charleston, South Carolina for the National Chicken Council's annual Food News Seminar. It's been really annoying to come back to snow and sleet, in April! We were sooooo done with winter weather back in January! 
So a big, comforting pot of chicken vegetable soup was in order yesterday.  This recipe comes together in just 30 minutes, giving me time yesterday afternoon to assemble a Barbie tricycle for my granddaughter Jayden's third birthday. I'm not very mechanically minded, so the bike took longer to assemble than the soup.
I prefer using homemade or canned chicken stock instead of the bouillon cubes and water, but the bouillon cubes are inexpensive.   
 2 chicken boneless, skinless breasts, or 1 breast and two boneless, skinless thighs, diced in 1-inch pieces (this is easier to do when slightly frozen)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced celery, about 2 ribs
2 cups baby carrots, cut in half width-wise 
3 14-ounce cans chicken broth (or 5 cups water and 5 chicken bouillon cubes)
1/3 cup dried onion flakes (or 1 onion, peeled and chopped)
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced in 1-inch cubes (or 1 20-ounce package of Simply Potatoes fresh-cut potatoes, or 4 cups frozen diced hash browns)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (or 1 12-ounce can V-8 juice)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup corn kernels, canned or frozen
1 cup frozen peas
Options: 1 cup dried pasta (such as broken spaghetti, rotini or elbow macaroni), 1/2 cup chopped red or green pepper, 1 cup frozen green beans, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
 Heat the oil in large stock pot while you’re dicing the chicken.  Then cook the chicken over medium-high heat until that it’s golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and carrots, water and bouillon cubes and bring soup to a gentle boil. Then peel and dice the potatoes. Add the potatoes, onion flakes, garlic, thyme, tomatoes or V-8 juice, pepper and corn.  Keep soup at a gentle boil for at least 20 more minutes, or until the vegetables and meat are tender. Taste and correct seasonings (you may want more garlic, more bouillon, thyme or pepper, depending on individual taste).
If you use pasta, add it about 10 minutes before serving. Add the peas during the last few minutes of cooking so they don't lose their bright color. Makes about about 8 to 10  1-1/2-cup servings.

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