Wild Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This soup has become my go to food for comfort in the last few weeks, just like Japan Express has become our source of dinners on test weekends. It helps that I consider it winter food, that it has lots of vegetables which simmer in white wine and lemon juice and that it is creamy and warm and delicious, yet easy to put together. And if you think people from the Caribbean eat a lot of rice…well i’m here to tell you that the stereotype is true and that I do eat copious amounts of rice preferentially in some type of soup or sauce; so this soup just makes a lot of sense to me.

   

Wild Rice, Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Original Recipe 
Makes 4 servings
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup wild rice mix
  • 2 Tbs butter, divided
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced carrots
  • 2 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded (I put them in the microwave, under water in the microwave-safe bowl for 15 minutes, and then shredded under cool running water. It’s OK if the chicken is not cooked all the way in.)
  • 1 cup diced baby portobella mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, (I used Campbell’s)
  • 2 cups chicken broth, and 1 additional cup if you like your soup not as thick
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika, optional
  • 2 Tbs chopped cilantro for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large size pan over medium to high heat. Once the butter has melted add the carrots and saute for 1 minute. Add the rice and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large pan over medium to high heat, add the last tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and celery and saute until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for another minute. Add the shredded chicken and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pan, stir and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
  3. Add the chicken and vegetables to the large pan containing the rice and carrots (once the rice has finished cooking), stir well and return to the stove over medium heat. Add the 2 cups of chicken broth and the cream of mushrooms and stir well to incorporate. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream, stir and cook for another minute.
  4. Season well with salt and pepper and garnish with paprika and cilantro right before serving.

Notes:

If the soup is too think for you, add additional chicken broth or water.

Other yummy things you may like:

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Risotto

Sorry folks, tonight’s dinner is not the healthiest though it is pretty tasty. Besides, who doesn’t love a creamy, savory Risotto with fragrant Spanish Saffron, bit and pieces of delicious crispy bacon and fresh and colorful Brussels sprouts…oh and did I mention caramelized onions, that’s right!

I had some Arborio rice left over from a rice pudding recipe I made a few days ago; and since we all know that Arborio is pretty much the grain for risotto (well at least according to this Cook’s Illustrated article), mainly due to its high starch content which contributes to its creaminess, I guess I had no better use for this rice than the recipe below.

     

Making Risotto, though satisfying, is a labor of love. First, get your biceps ready for some heavy duty stirring and second, do not sit down for longer than 5 minutes while the rice is cooking unless the chair is next to the stove, trust me! In the end, I don’t know of anybody who doesn’t appreciate a good Risotto and the cook that made it for them.

As far as the healthiness issue, the main offenders in this recipe are the bacon, the bacon fat, a bit of butter, the heavy cream and the chicken broth.  None of these ingredients are really in excess though and some good portion control should take care of the problem, however, some substitutions could be made if you so desire. For example, I used turkey bacon instead of pork bacon and low sodium/fat chicken broth. As far as the butter and cream, I did go for the real deal because I didn’t find any acceptable substitutes in my fridge. Otherwise, this recipe turned out pretty perfect. Enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Risotto

Adapted from Jenny Eatwell’s Rhubarb & Ginger
(makes about 4-5 portions)
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 strips of turkey bacon
  • 2 cups (about 14) fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 9-10 cups low sodium/low fat chicken broth, warmed
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4-5 threads of Saffron, soaked in 1/2 cup of warm water for 20 minutes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shredded green onions and grated Parmesan cheese, as garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a saucepan bring salted water to a boil.  Add the Brussels sprouts and blanche for 3-4 minutes, drain and plunge into ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain, slice thinly and set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, fry the bacon until it releases the fat and  turns golden and crispy.  Remove the strips from the pan and set aside over paper towels to dry. Allow them to cool and then crumble with your hands into small pieces. Reserve the pan with the bacon fat.
  3. Return the pan with the bacon fat to the stove over medium heat (you should have about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan, otherwise, remove some if you have more than that). Add the onions once the pan in hot and stir to coat the onions and spread evenly on the pan. Cook the onions for 10 minutes until browned, stirring frequently (depending on how strong your stovetop burner is you may need to reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out.
  4. Once the onions have caramelized, add the rice to the pan and stir in. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt while stirring to coat the rice. Cook for about a minute or two and then add 2 cups of the warm chicken broth and stir. Make sure the broth stays warms so as to not reduce the cooking temperature of the risotto after each addition. Add the 1/2 cup of water with the soaked saffron to the pan as well as the lemon juice and stir in.  Once the risotto comes to a simmer reduce the heat to low and allow to cook. The rice will absorb the chicken stock as it cooks, after which you should add another 2 cups and continue in this vein, all while stirring frequently. The risotto will take about 30 minutes to cook. During this time, you should have gone through the entire 9-10 cups of chicken broth, two cups at a time every time it looks like the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. When the rice is close to being tender and cooked and little liquid is left in the pan, add the heavy cream and stir well to incorporate. Allow the rice to cook for 3 more minutes, stirring often. Add the Brussels sprouts and the crumbled bacon (you can preserve some of the bacon to add later as a garnish) and allow to heat through as the rice finishes cooking.
  6. Taste the rice and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Remove from the heat and serve warm sprinkled with the smoked paprika and topped with the shredded green onions, grated Parmesan and crumbled bacon.

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