Chicken and Rice Soup
Birds sing back and forth; branches dance, their leaves sailing in the wind; squirrels frolic in the grass and clouds perform magic acts as they appear and disappear in the nearly pristine blue sky. Rays of sunshine play peak a boo as they try and dodge filtering leaves. The warm columns of light tempt and tease me, pointing and laughing as I hide deep under my comforter. I cough and sneeze and blow my nose. Glasses of water disappear as soon as they are filled. My couch creaks under my constant turning and jostling, disturbing the nostalgic sound of Jessica Fletcher pondering aloud as she solves yet another convenient murder.
I dramatically struggle to reach for my water sitting just a foot away, grunting and moaning, sighing and gasping, hoping to catch the sympathy of my brother as he merrily skips by void of any infection. No luck. I sit up with little effort, rethinking my ploy to garner attention, and a servant for the day. Being the only foodie in the house, I know what must be done.
I shuffle into the kitchen collecting a few vegetables, arranging them neatly on my counter. I lay the did-this-get-heavier cutting board on my counter with a grunt and begin to julienne, then dice the vegetables. I chop the onion in half, the pungent smell a refreshing wake up call to my sleeping, clogged sinuses, then slice it into a grid leaving small little uniform cubes as I chop through the top of each onion half. With a slide of the knife I arrange the diced onion into a neat pile next to the other nearly-pefect piles of vegetables. I smash the garlic with my knife and chop that too.
Over a pot I let a few glugs of olive oil fall into the pot; I wait for it to heat up. I pull the stock from the fridge and set it near by. As my nose begins to pick up the smell of oil I slide all of the vegetables into the deep pot. I let my ears enjoy the sizzle of raw vegetables in hot oil as I give them a quick stir with my favorite wooden spoon. Soon I add the rice and then pour in the waiting stock. Sweet smells of sweating vegetables meld into the beautiful smells of a slow simmering soup.
Before I know it I am again tucked under my big puffy blanket of solace, holding a large shallow soup bowl with one hand as I sip spoonfuls of savory and sweet stock from the large spoon in my other hand. I save bites of rice, carrot and chicken until I have scooped up nearly all of the stock, forcing myself to return to the pot for another ladle of steaming stock. A smile pierces my achey face; my sinuses begin to clear up and my headache is replaced with a warm comfortable feeling inside.
If there is one thing I believe in, it is the curing power of homemade food, particularly homemade chicken and rice soup when I’m sick. In fact the only thing that will get me out of bed or off of the couch when I’m sick is to make soup–and sometimes photograph it and write about it.
Soup: There are three things that are a soup’s best friend: time, slow simmering and homemade stock. This soup can be made in 45 minutes and is about the fastest soup recipe out there–unless you’re opening a can. I always avoid a rolling boil and really anything over a slow, lazy simmer when making soups–a slow lazy simmer will produce only a few bubbles breaking the surface every minute. As for stock, well that is the base of soup, and the most apparent flavor you will taste, especially in a stock-based soup like this. In fact, I made a post, Ten Reasons to Make Broth from Scratch with a Recipe and Tips, so before I get on a homemade stock/broth rant, I am going to point you there.
Chicken and rice soup is a classic and this is a deliciously savory and slightly sweet homage to our grandmother’s soup. I don’t know what it is in soup, but it always makes me feel better. This is not only my go to soup when I’m sick, but it is my go to soup when I’m looking for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. This rice and chicken soup is delicious with layers of sweet–thanks to the vegetables–and savory–thanks to the chicken. The rice and large carrot chunks add a nice bite.
Chicken and Rice Soup
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 parsnip, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
3 carrots, sliced on a bias
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup white rice
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat until the oil is hot.
2. Add all of the vegetables and sweat over medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes covered until the vegetables are soft and the onions just translucent. Stir occasionally to keep any vegetables from sticking or burning.
3. Add the rice, salt and pepper and stir for a minute.
4. Add the stock and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. The surface will steam and bubbles will break the surface occasionally.
5. Reduce the heat to low (you may want to do this slowly to keep the soup from ceasing its simmer) and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add the chopped chicken and simmer another 5 minutes until the chicken is heated through, continue to stir occasionally.
7. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste.
Enjoy! As I bid you adieu I will be dragging me and my big quilt back to bed to hopefully sleep the rest of this slightly-annoying-but-at-least-I-got-soup-out-of-it ailment.