glutenfreebymarriage

February 11, 2013

Chicken & Rice and Everything Nice – Making Soup When the Cupboard is Bare

Filed under: chicken, cooking, gluten-free, lunch, soup/stew, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 13:15

chicken and rice soup with spinach and mushrooms

I love soup for lunch!

One of the benefits of cooking gluten free is that it gives me an excuse to break away from the same old sandwich for lunch and in the winter there is nothing better than opening your lunch bag and finding a cup of soup.

I’m still getting over a cold and Mr. GF just caught one, so the plan was to make chicken soup for this week’s lunches.  Sadly I’m pretty much out of fresh veg and the supermarket shelves were bare so I had to get creative.  Not to worry, it all came out fine in the end.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Ingredients:

makes 12 servings

  • 2 – 3 pounds  cooked chicken, diced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cup water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 16 oz package frozen spinach
  • a handful of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups rice

Directions:

  1. Normally I would be a purist and boil a chicken and use homemade stock, but I’m still sick and kind of tired after all that shoveling so I cheated and roasted some chicken.   You could buy a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket, but you have to be very careful.  Many of the precooked store chickens have coatings which typically contain flour or bread crumbs.  Honestly, it’s no big deal to cook chicken while you’re watching tv, doing laundry or surfing the web.  Just brush on a little flavored vinegar or olive oil, add a few spices and pop it in the oven at 3750 for an hour.
  2. Assuming you already have your cooked chicken, the next step is to make the rice.  Mix 2 cups of rice, 4 cups of water and a dash of salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until liquid is gone.  Set aside.
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of canola oil in a large pot.  Add sliced carrots, onions and garlic, cook over medium heat until onions are tender.  Add chicken broth, water, chicken and spices and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer 30 minutes until carrots are tender.
  5. Add spinach, rice and mushrooms, continue cooking until heated through.
  6. Ladle into containers.  Cover when cooled.

If you’re wondering if it’s worth the effort, let me ask you this.  How much does a bowl of soup cost at the take out place and how sure are you that it’s really gluten free?

A little time in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll save time and money all week long.  To put it another way, twelve lunches for less than $1 a serving and no gluten.  Not too shabby.

Note: We both have lingering colds so we thought we would boost the decongestant benefits of chicken soup by adding some spice.  I thought I had jalapeños at home, but was out so I ad libbed with chili powder.  We like spicy, but it’s not for everybody.  If you prefer a more sedate flavor I would probably just use 1 teaspoon of thyme in place of the chili powder, red pepper flakes and nutmeg.

One More Thought: After I ladled out the soup I kept thinking that a teaspoon of feta might make a nice garnish.  I didn’t buy any, and Mr. GF tries to avoid dairy whenever possible, but if I had it on hand I would probably give it a try.

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January 29, 2013

Chunky Split Pea Soup (It ain’t pretty but it sure is good!)

Filed under: dairy free, dinner, gluten-free, soup/stew — Tags: , , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 13:26

chunky split pea soup

Close your eyes and the gently bubbling soup with its wafting smokey aroma will lure you down the hall towards the stove top but whatever you do, DO NOT OPEN THE LID!!!

Don’t worry, lifting the lid will not affect the soup, but the muddy looking green mush will likely turn your stomach, or at the very least make you wrinkle your nose and say “Ewwww.”

There is no getting around it.  Split Pea Soup falls into the same category as oatmeal and a few other mushy, unattractive foods.  It smells great, tastes great, is extremely good for you, but boy is it ugly.

If you can get past its appearance, this recipe has a wonderful thickness that belies its lack of meat and a hint of smokiness that is just the right touch to warm your winter blues.   Setting aside the unseemly color,  it’s an easy recipe that packs a lot of flavor and is well worth trying.  And yes, the picture is accurate.  The color of the soup is exactly how it looked when we ate it last night.

The recipe below is shown as it was originally written. The items highlighted in yellow are the ingredients that I changed.

Split Pea Soup (What’s For Dinner? 365 Lean & Natural Dinners, p. 28)

ingredients:

Makes 6 servings

  • 1lb dried green or yellow split peas
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons soft margarine
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery with leaves, chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 small potato, unpeeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced cook chicken (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Changes:

2 tablespoons soft margarine: I didn’t see the point of the margarine so I skipped it.

1 stalk celery with leaves, chopped: The leaves on the celery I had left in the fridge were looking a little limp so I just went with the stalk.

1 cup diced cooked chicken: It was optional and I didn’t have time to thaw frozen chicken and cook it so I opted out.

grated Parmesan cheese: Dairy, need I say more?

spices:  I also added 1/2 teaspoon of dried mustard and cinnamon to the pot.

Other Changes:

I used boxed chicken broth and didn’t want to leave 1/2 a box open in the fridge so I increased the broth from six to eight cups and to make up for the extra liquid I also doubled the celery, carrots and potatoes.

Directions:

  1. Wash and sort the peas.  Put in a 6-quart soup pot with the remaining ingredients except the chicken.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover pot and simmer for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally.    All the vegetables should be very soft and begin to fall apart.  The thicker part of the soup will tend to sink to the bottom of the pan and should be stirred in before serving.
  3. Stir in the chicken or turkey about 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with the cheese.

That was pretty much it.  Another of those not so pretty, but oh so tasty meals.  I’m not a big pea fan, but this was an easy meal on a cold and snowy day and made a nice change from my usual lentils or black beans  You could take an immersion blender and puree the whole thing, but the idea of a muddy green puddle in my soup bowl wasn’t too appetizing so I left it chunky.  (It’s much easier to overlook the color when you can make out the potatoes and carrots.)

Also, the stirring really needed some more emphasis in the original recipe.  I got side tracked with work and found that the peas sank to the bottom and stuck to the pot.  I managed to incorporate them back into the soup with some aggressive scraping/stirring, but it was a gunky, clumpy mess.

Note: This is something that could be put in a slow cooker on low for 6 hours.  It could also be made vegetarian by swapping the chicken broth for vegetable broth.  If you can get past the appearance it’s an inexpensive hearty meal with a surprising amount of flavor and I strongly recommend that you give it a try.

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