Chicken Soup for the Soul

Have I told you that the teenage munchkin is “fasting”?  Actually, maybe I’m not supposed to be talking about it but she didn’t tell me NOT to and she should know that nothing is sacred unless specifically stated!  lol  She’s fasting because she wants to show God that she’s open to sacrificing for him the way Jesus did for our sins (her words).  She tells me that she wants to be open to receiving HIS wishes for her life.  She does NOT get this from me.  I’ve never really been a disciplined person and I’m ashamed that I’m the one who believes that God can’t see me sneak that cookie or piece of candy.  Julia isn’t fasting for just a day.  She’s been only eating non processed foods for 2 weeks now.  Mostly she eats boiled eggs and raw vegetables and fruits.  Every day, I try to cook her fish but she can have VERY little salt so everything tastes bland.  I’m proud of her though because, for the most part, she’s not trying to argue about what kind of food she can have.  Yesterday, she kind of pushed the ticket.  She’d forgotten that she told me she couldn’t eat pasta because it was a starch.  So NO starches, right?  She thought I wouldn’t notice when she started frying potatoes and green peppers last night!  lol  Her reasoning?  Potatoes are a vegetable grown from the ground and so were green peppers.  What about the starch thing, Julia?  Oh THIS starch is okay, I’m SURE of it.  What about the fact that potatoes really don’t have nutritional value and you’re eating them in order to feel full?  Oh that’s okay too.  God will understand.  Well OKAY then.  I guess the rules change when you’re really hungry?

Today I’m making her some of Paula Deen’s chicken rice soup.  There’s NOTHING in this soup that she CAN’T have and since it’s cold and snowy AND she’s working hard painting and cleaning, it just FEELS like a soup kind of day.  Everything comes from God’s earth and the chicken is even healthy, right?  This will be the only time in the past 2 weeks that she’s eaten chicken though.  She tells me that this is like a 5 star meal for her!  And then I reminded her about those fried potatoes last night.  Was that like a 4 star meal?  lol

By now you know that I get my recipes from SOMEWHERE.  Lately it’s bee from the great Paula Deen.    However, I rarely stick to a recipe.  This one is revised by me but comes mostly from her.  Everyone’s got their own way of doing chicken soup.  Soup is just one of those foods that you can’t mess up PLUS it’s good for what ails you!  If you feel bad physically or emotionally, I PROMISE you’ll feel better after a great big bowl of this!

Cure – All Chicken Rice Soup

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, cut up, rinsed and patted dry (mine was 5.5 lbs)

6 celery stalks, washed (use with the green leaves)

6 large carrots chopped into coins

2 lrg Vidalia onions (halved through the root end)

6 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tsp dried thyme

4 bay leaves

5 tsp salt

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp tarragon (dried)

2 cups long grain white rice

2/3 cups chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large stockpot, combine chicken, 12 cups water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, tarragon and thyme.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through (around an hour).

Remove the chicken and carrots from stockpot and set aside.  Strain the remaining liquid and discard the solids.  Return the strained broth to the pot, stir in rice and bring to a gentle simmer, cook until the rice is tender about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick meat off the bones, discarding skin and bones.  Return the chicken and carrots to the pot.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and stir in parsley right before serving.

*The bones make the soup!  You can always use boneless chicken breast.  I do if that’s all I have on hand but if you want REALLY good soup, full of flavor, you’ll want to use chicken on the bone.

*This recipe is a double batch.  It will serve 12-18 people generously.  I always double recipes because I can freeze a batch for later.  It saves time and money 🙂  Enjoy!

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Great Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings, a French, country recipe

My mother’s family were 100% French (Canadian French) when they came to settle in the tiny little country town of Old Mines Missouri. Nobody spoke English even up until their death, when my mother was young.  The thing she remembers most about her grandmother, my great grandmother, is that she was a very “cold” woman and that she didn’t show affection.  I’d have to guess it was because she had SO many children and they had to work VERY hard just to survive.  She didn’t have TIME to show affection.  Every Sunday, my grandpa would load up all 10 of his children and they’d visit his parents in Old Mines, for Sunday dinner after church.

My great grandmother would spend the day cooking the most delicious meals.  They weren’t elaborate, or sophisticated, but they were the most delicious dishes my mom remembers tasting.  In particular, there was the bouillon.  Bouillon had to be served before every meal no matter how hot it was outside.  It’s a French thing.  Most of the time, they’d eat outside because there wasn’t enough room for everyone inside the tiny house.  The kitchen that my great grandmother cooked in was not like any kitchen that I’ve ever had to prepare a meal in.  Food was prepared usually over an open fire.  It was too tiny for anyone to offer help, but they still tried to help.  She didn’t have much patience with anyone getting in her way, from what I understand.  The other thing I find interesting about their family “get togethers” is that the children were made to eat last.  Here’s how it went:  The men ate first, then the women and THEN the little children ate what was left.  WTH????  Totally not acceptable to me because I’ve ALWAYS made sure that the kids get enough to eat FIRST, before anyone else gets to eat.  However, Mom tells me that it really made sense for the old timers to do things this way because they were a “farming” people.  It was important to feed the men first so that they can get back out into the field and work.  The other reason that the men needed to eat first is that it was necessary that the men have the most food because they needed the food to fuel their hard physical labor.  Ok…  I’m struggling with the part of my constitution, the STRONG woman part, that says this way of thinking isn’t right!  Then there’s the logical part of my brain that tells me “Ok Michelle, you weren’t raised on a farm and don’t know what it was like to work as physically hard as the men did back then”.  Here’s my OTHER logical thought:  On a Sunday, after church, the men WEREN’T working on the farm!  Why couldn’t the rules change for  a Sunday?  I mean the women’s work was NEVER done but the men got to relax AND eat more food leaving whatever was left behind for the women and the children.  Good thing my big mouth didn’t live back then (1940’s and 1950’s)!  lol  This actually wasn’t the point of my story….  it never ceases to amaze me how easily I get off subject 😉  I was originally just going to post my great grandmother’s recipe for Chicken and dumplings!  lol

Now that I’ve come off my “rant”, I want to share with you my great grandmother’s recipe for chicken and dumplings.  I actually think it’s SO cool that my family still has her recipes and that they were translated to English for future generations!

Ingredients for chicken:

1 whole roasting chicken (1 used an 8 lb chicken today but any size will do)

3 stalks celery with their tops

3 carrots, washed but not peeled

2 med onions, peeled but whole

3 TBSP salt

3 TBSP pepper

2 tsp dried oregano

2 TBSP garlic powder

2 TBSP dried thyme

Directions for chicken

Place chicken in a very large dutch oven and cover with water.  Place all seasonings and vegetables in dutch oven and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer on low until chicken starts coming apart.  Once chicken is done, let cool so you can start taking the chicken off the bones.  Remove vegetables from stock pot and discard.  Skim fat from broth and replace chicken back into the pan.  Heat broth back up with chicken.

At this point you will want to thicken the soup by:

  • Heat the desired amount of chicken stock in an appropriately sized saucepan until it reaches a simmering boil.

  • Measure 1/4 cup of cold water and pour it into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of flour.

  • Mix the flour and cold water until it dissolves completely into a smooth, even paste.

  • Add the flour mixture a little at a time until the stock reaches the desired consistency.

    This is a little complicated if you’re not a seasoned cook but if I can do it so can you!  lol

    I also add a stick of butter to the broth because my family (who, btw, believe it or not DON’T have weight issues… lol) tells me the broth needs to be rich and all French recipes call for butter.  I’m TOTALLY ok with that!

    Grandma Boyer’s Rolled Dumplings

    Ingredients

    3 cups of flour

    2 eggs beaten

    3/4 cup chicken broth

    2/3 cups lard (yeah, I use shortening)

    1 tsp salt

    Directions

    Beat eggs, add COOLED broth to beaten eggs.  Mix flour, salt and lard together until crumbles form (I use a pastry blender for this).  Add egg mixture and mix well.  Roll thin onto floured board.  Drop dumplings into boiling, thickened broth.

    Note:  For an 8 lb chicken, I will double or even triple the dumpling recipe.  It just depends on how many people I’m feeding.  PLUS, I like leftovers especially if I’m going through the trouble of making dumplings!  lol

    Hope you all enjoy!  We’re having this tonight and LAWDY does my house EVER smell delicious right now!  lol

Zero’s Chili (reblogged)

Today’s a PERFECT day for chili in the great Midwest!  I decided to try a different recipe from a blog I’m following.  http://captainofcuisine.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/zeros-chili/comment-page-1/#comment-330 Here’s the link but I’ve also copied and pasted his recipe and made notations with the changes I made.  This is a wonderful base recipe and I’ll definitely be using it as a regular!  Hope you enjoy!  Oh and Thanks to weckeman for sharing!

Zero’s Chili

Ingredients-

– 3 Pounds of ground round (or meat loaf mix, ground sausage or a combination of any the 3, your choice.  For vegetarians, 3 pounds of Morningstar Farms Grillers crumbles (TVP) taste great!)

– 1 Large can of whole tomatoes (pureed) (Just put them in the blender)

– 1 Small cans of tomato paste

– 5 Cans of red kidney beans with liquid (10 to 12 ounce cans each)

– 2 packages of chili seasoning mix (I used taco seasoning cause that’s what I had)

– 4 Medium green peppers (diced small) (I only had 3 green peppers so that’s what I used)

– 3 Medium onions (diced small)

– 2 Caps fulls of white vinegar

– 2 Tablespoons of butter

– 1/2 Tablespoons of garlic powder

– 1/2 Tablespoon of gravy master (I used 1 TBSP)

– 3 Tablespoons of olive oil

– Salt and pepper (to taste)

– 3 Teaspoons of ground cumin  (I added 4 tsp)

– A little water to thin to desired consistency (optional)

***I added 3 to 4 canned chipoltles in adobo sauce for extra heat.  It still didn’t make the chili TOO hot

****I also added 1 TBSP chili powder

Instructions-

1. Clean, chop, prepare and arrange all ingredients.

2. In a large heavy saucepan, brown meat (or meatless meat) while breaking it down with a spatula.

3. When meat is all browned and broken down to it’s smallest form, begin to drain all the fat you can.

4. Add pureed tomatoes and paste, chili mix and 1 cup of water and bring it to a simmer- stirring frequently.

5. Lightly coat a frying pan with olive oil and begin to sauté your peppers and onions until slightly limp and translucent.  Then add them to the chili

6. Add 1 cup of boiling water to the frying pan and de-glaze to get any remaining flavor. Add to the chili

7. Add all other ingredients except the beans and their liquid to the chili.

8. Simmer, stirring occasionally for at least 1 hour.

9. Add beans and liquid and continue simmering for another half an hour.

10. Serve with grated cheddar or parmesan cheese, Italian bread, ice cold beer and Sriracha.  Some people prefer it over rice.  Enjoy!