chickin lickin': four soups to crow about

     Now that we have learned how to make rich, delicious stock, what do we do with it? Well, it is autumn, the very best time of the year to me, a perfect time to make things that are comforting to your soul! I don't know if you have the same reaction, but when I smell the rich stock simmering, then taste the flavors of the vegetables and other ingredients together, I am reminded of my childhood. The feeling of coziness, being safe, happy, without a care in the world. With the crazy pace of our daily lives, it may only last a skinny minute, but I'll take what I can get.
     The following soup recipes, using homemade chicken stock, will get you started. Don't have homemade? Well, I'll let it slide this time. Use a good quality, canned stock, if you must. But next time the rotisserie chickens are on sale, get a few and throw them in the freezer. Then make your own... I promise, you'll be glad you did!
Chicken Chili-Stew
     This soup came into our family, like many other dishes, as a Weight Watcher recipe from one of my mom's friends. My mom, a lifetime member, prepared this frequently. Our family loves this soup and yours will as well. It is very easy to make and is great for a busy weeknight meal. I add cornbread and, you guessed it, a salad. My favorite go-to cornbread is still the economical Jiffy mix in the little blue and white box. I throw in a small, drained can of mexi-corn and bake it up. We rarely have leftovers.
2 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, any color… yellow is sweetest, green is the strongest
1 pound cooked chicken (frozen, fajita-seasoned breast meat is a fast and delicious option.)
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans, fat free, chicken broth or 4 cups, homemade stock
1 can pinto beans, drained
2/3 c. salsa
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
½ t. salt
Black pepper to taste
In large pot, saute onion, garlic and bell pepper until soft. Add all other ingredients. Simmer 30 minutes and serve.
Chicken Gumbo
     One of my favorite soups as a child was Chicken Gumbo. For some reason, you cannot talk me into eating slimy okra and tomatoes, but add chicken stock, rice and a few chunks of chicken and I'm all over it! We did eat the Campbell's canned version, but my mom also made homemade Chicken and Gumbo.
1 quart chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
1 pound cooked chicken
1 c. frozen green beans
1 c. sliced, fresh okra
2 cans stewed tomatoes
½ c. raw rice
salt and pepper
In large pot, saute onion until soft. Add remaining ingredients, except for rice. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add rice, cooking until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Bread Soup
2 T. olive oil
2 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
½ t. red pepper flakes
2 c. day-old crusty bread, cut into large cubes
1 can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
6 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
Salt and fresh ground, black pepper to taste.
Pinch of sugar
Fresh basil leaves
Heat oil in large saucepan. Brown pancetta, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion. Add bread cubes and turn in oil until coated. (Bread also helps to thicken soup.) Add remaining ingredients. (The pinch of sugar neutralizes the acid in tomatoes.) Simmer for 20 minutes and serve. This soup is great as a first course, instead of a salad. You can also make it a meal by adding a salad, if you like. And if you are one of those 'Where's the Beef' kind of people, don't whine... just add a little meat to your salad.
Chicken Noodle
1 t. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs, celery, diced
2 c. diced, cooked chicken
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 c. egg noodles
salt and pepper
pinch of poultry seasoning or sage.
Place oil in deep stock pot. Heat, then add onion, carrots and celery. (You may have heard of this being used together frequently. The combination of onion, celery and carrots is a classic seasoning mix called by the French, miripoix. Pronounced, ‘mir-i-pwoh.’) Saute until translucent. Add Chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. After simmering, add chicken and ½ cup egg noodles. Cook until noodles are tender. Season with salt, pepper and sage. Congratulations, you have a winning bowl of chicken noodle soup!

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