Chicken Soup with or without Rice

January 13th, 2010 / Comments 11

What is it about chicken soup? There is a series of inspirational books titled Chicken Soup for the Soul, John Steinbeck mentioned it in East of Eden, Moshe ben Mainmon, a twelfth century Egyptian physician and philosopher, recognized it as a remedy for cold symptoms and his advice has been supported by evidence from a scientific study done at the University of Nebraska.

redboy 01 c egbert Chicken Soup with or without Rice

My resolution to cook simple food that tastes even better the next day and the first verse of Chicken Soup with Rice, written by Maurice Sendak and set to music by Carole King, inspired me to make my favorite chicken soup.

In January it’s so nice
While slipping on the sliding ice
To sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sipping once, sipping twice
Sipping chicken soup with rice.

Cooking chicken soup can be an all day affair but by beginning with chicken broth and a rotisserie chicken from the market, I had a full flavored, body-and-soul warming soup ready in less than an hour.  Here’s how I did it:

Basic Chicken Soup

I combined two quarts of chicken stock and one quart of water in a large stockpot.  While that heated, I shredded the meat into a bowl and put the skin and bones of the rotisserie chicken into the broth.  After the broth had simmered for twenty minutes in the covered pot, I used a colander to strain the broth into a large bowl and discarded the skin and bones.

I put the empty stock pot on medium heat and added three tablespoons of unsalted butter, two cups of sliced onions, three medium peeled carrots cut in rounds, three medium stalks of celery cut into half-inch thick slices, a teaspoon of dried thyme and two cloves of peeled, sliced garlic.  I sauteed the vegetables until they were soft, about ten minutes, and then added the broth and shredded chicken to the vegetables. When it had simmered for five minutes, I added a bit of salt and pepper and had chicken soup ready to serve.

I have often spent a few more minutes to make Chili Chicken Soup with Beans. Here’s how I elevated basic soup to inspired soup with a few simple additions:

Chili Chicken Soup with Beans

I sauteed three tablespoons of chili powder, one tablespoon of cumin and one seeded and diced jalapeno pepper with the vegetables. When I added the broth and chicken to the pot, I also added one 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, a one-pound bag of frozen corn, two 15-ounce cans of beans, one black and one white beans, that had been drained and rinsed. I topped each serving with freshly chopped cilantro and a spoonful of sour cream.

Except for the extra time it took for the larger volume of soup to reach a simmer, and the opening of cans and rinsing of beans, I had enough soup for a couple of dinners and lunch for most of the week.

If you agree with Maurice Sendak and Carole King and want to sip chicken soup with rice, here’s how to do it:

Chicken Soup with Rice

Add three quarters of a cup of uncooked rice and an additional two cups of broth when you add the broth and chicken to the vegetables and simmer the soup until the rice is tender.  Top each serving with chopped, flat leaf parsley.  If you use one and a half cups of cooked rice rather than uncooked rice, the soup will not need additional broth or cooking time.

Chicken soup appears in nearly every cuisine with additions that might include dumplings, noodles, tortillas, lemon juice, curry powder, coconut milk, star anise, eggs, vinegar, cheese or mushrooms.

Perhaps, that’s what it is about chicken soup – It’s the “basic black dress” in a cook’s soup closet.  The possibilities are endless and it may even cure the common cold.

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Basic Chicken Soup List

  • 1 rotisseri chicken
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 3 medium stalks of celery
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper

Chili Chicken Soup with Beans List

  • 3 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 large (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 one-pound bag frozen corn
  • 2  15-ounce cans of beans, one black and one white beans
  • freshly cilantro
  • sour cream
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