Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

My mother had to be pretty creative when she put dinner on the table.  She had three kids who all had very different palates. Plus she brought a sensibility to cooking that was distinctly foreign, owing to her years in Europe as a young married American woman living abroad.

I remember those meals vividly.  I remember delicious smells wafting from the stove. I remember beautiful food in vibrant, yet natural, colors. And most of all, I remember simple, healthy, seasonal fare.

Today, this is what I strive to create for my own family.  My hope is that this blog will help you to see dinner not a chore, but as an adventure. Go ahead and get your kids to help you with menu planning. And by all means, vary the recipes to your own liking.  Then if all goes well, you'll be able to create healthy, delicious, unique meals your kids will remember forever, too.

I'd like to begin with everyone's favorite -- chicken soup.  I love everything about it.  The brothy base, the multi-colored vegetables and hunks of chicken.  One thing that I really liked about chicken soup is that it can be really flavorful depending on what you put in it.  My friend Sally raved about her Slow Cooker chicken soup so I thought, I'd give it a whirl.

Tried and true Multi-Cultural Slow Cooker Chicken Soup
Serves 4-6
Cooking time – 6.5 hours

I'm calling this a multi-cultural soup because it started off originally as a Chicken Tortilla soup.  Now it has a slight French flair to it.  I’m hoping to add a Korean version soon.

2 14 oz. cans organic diced tomatoes
4 split boneless chicken breasts (approx. 2 lb.’s)
1 cup dried navy beans (rinse well)
1 cheese rind (I used Manchego but an aged Parmesan cheese rind works wonders.)
5 cups water
1 Knorr soup cube
1 tblsp. dried Herbs de Provence
2 med. carrots finely chopped
2 tsp. sea salt
Pepper to taste
1 med. Vidalia onion
2 dried Bay leaves

Put in all of the ingredients in your Slow Cooker and set on High for 4 hours.  Then turn the Slow Cooker down to low and cook for an additional 2.5 hours.

To make it kid friendly.  I made some pasta, Ditalini, and added frozen peas at the end of cooking the pasta.  Then I scooped out the Chicken soup and poured it over the pasta and peas.  When our son asked if he was having something different, I replied, “your having brothy, tomatoey pasta with peas.”  He looked at me and replied, “hmmm, I like pasta, I like peas.  Looks good to me, mommy!”

Sally’s version - Add in 1 14 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup.  Substitute one diced Jalapeno pepper for the Herbs do Provence.  Add in one diced green pepper.

Gayle’s version – Substituted black beans for navy beans, and thyme instead of Herbs de Provence, added garlic and Jalapeno peppers and at the end, sprinkled cheese and diced Avocado.