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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Extremely Filling Chicken-Vegetable Soup

When my mother moved back to California after 20 years in Costa Rica, I started filling her freezer with easy-to-reheat meals. My own, personal version of meals-on-wheels. At first freezer burn was a problem, until I discovered that as long as the meat and vegetables were submerged in a liquid or coated with sauce, the food survived remarkably unaffected by their time in her freezer. Now that our older son, Frank, is back from college, living in his own place, I've added his freezer to my list of must-fills.

Freezing chicken soup works great and with enough meat and vegetables, the soup satisfies as an entree. I'll only use homemade stock. Not because I'm an overly fastidious foodie, but the high sodium content of prepared stocks puts me off. Making my own, I can also control the quality of the stock. Using raw bones makes a mild almost "neutral" tasting stock. If the bones come from a roasted chicken, the flavors have a deeper flavor. They're both good, either working well for a soup, although the milder stock is closer to the Jewish chicken soup of my childhood.

2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 broccoli crowns, washed, roughly chopped (1 cup)
2 Yukon gold potatoes, washed, peeled, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley, washed
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
6 cups homemade chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame and saute the onions and garlic until lightly browned so the onions caramelize, then add the rest of the vegetables and chicken, stirring and cooking until softened, being careful not to over-brown the vegetables. Deglaze the pan with the butter and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasons with additional sea salt and pepper, as needed.

To serve, ladle out a generous portion of the vegetables and chicken and top with homemade croutons.

Serves 6.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes. Cooking Time: 30 minutes.

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