Friday, January 21, 2011

Slow Cooked Chicken and Rice Soup

I am happy to report that we are now able to enjoy all of the deliciously hot water we want, thanks to some very hard working people at the gas company. We only suffered through about a week of no hot water, but if you have ever shared a similar fate, you know that that week seems to take forever. But for the past week or so, we've been enjoying hot showers, a functioning dish washer, and a much easier method of hand washing dishes. But even with hot water, it's sometimes nice to make an entire meal that involves very little clean up. Entire meals that can be made in one pot are great for when you want something satisfying and simple. One way to get a great meal with minimal effort is through the use of the slow cooker. This is not a gadget I've spent a lot of time with, but I do have one and it certainly helps to make an easy dinner. The best part about a slow cooker is that, once you have the chopping and measuring done, all you have to do is press a button and forget about it. These meals are especially great if you have some time in the morning to get things prepared, so then it can cook all day and be ready to go when you want to have dinner. You could also prep everything the night before and simply pour it all together and hit the on switch in the morning. It's such a wonderful feeling to come home after a day of work or errands or school and know that dinner is already waiting for you. And as far as clean up goes, you probably will only have a knife, cutting board and the slow cooker pot. Doesn't get much easier than that. If you don't have a slow cooker, this soup could easily be made on the stove in a large soup pot with a lid. Set the soup on the lowest heat possible and cook for an hour or two, as opposed to 6-8 for the slow cooker. It's best to stir occasionally if the pot is on the stove since you do run the risk of burning the bottom. But it is still a relatively painless and easy to make soup, either way.
Chicken and rice soup is a great alternative to chicken noodle soup, especially for those of us who are gluten-free. But even for the noodle lovers out there, pasta can get overly mushy and fall apart when left in liquid too long. Brown rice, on the other hand, holds up nicely and only gets more flavorful the longer it's in the soup. And don't worry, chicken and rice soup can cure as many ailments as the classic bowl of chicken and noodle. (Note: I am not a doctor and don't actually know if soup cures anything, but I do know it tastes good.) The soup is also full of low fat chicken and healthy vegetables, making it a great dish if you aren't feeling well or even if you just want something healthy to balance out all the cookies and pies from the holidays.

Slow Cooked Chicken and Rice Soup (serves 4-6)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2.5 - 3 cups mixed vegetables (I used broccoli and cauliflower florets)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I used 2 large chicken breasts)
  • 1 cup water
  • 6-7 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Combine all vegetables, brown rice and chicken in the pot of a slow cooker.
Pour in 1 cup water and enough chicken stock to fully cover everything.
Season with bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. This just gets better the longer you cook it.
Season with a bit more salt and pepper if needed.

For a printable recipe click here

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