The weather has cooled off a bit, dried leaves are rustling down the sidewalks and the light has taken on a golden, ethereal glow. Now that fall is finally here, it is time for homemade soup! One of my all-time favorite memories of childhood was coming home from school on a cold fall or winter day and seeing the welcoming halo from kitchen windows that were all steamed up. That meant that mom was making another one of her fabulous soups. A big bowl of soup cooked from fresh ingredients, a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese and warm San Fransisco sour dough bread – Yum! It’s still one of my favorite dinners after all these years.
My recipes are always simple but full of flavor. They are usually based on what I have on hand. I do my grocery shopping for the week and then work from there. My soups are really versatile too. This recipe is full of chicken, beans, rice and vegetables. All of my soups are good with or without meat, so that part is totally up to you. I cook chicken breasts once a week in a slow cooker. That way I can slice it for sandwiches, shred it for enchiladas and tacos and cube it for soups, salads and casseroles. You can certainly put a raw chicken breast into the pot and cook it while you are cooking the rest of the rice, beans and veggies. If you do that, then you will want to add 8 cups of water rather than chicken stock.
- about a cup and a half of a dried beans/rice mix (See photo and text below for more specific info regarding ingredients)
- half an onion
- half a green bell pepper
- four or five carrots
- 2 cups of small Brussels sprouts, halved
- one or two cups of cooked, cubed chicken (optional)
- 8 cups of chicken stock (use water or vegetable stock if you want to cook vegan)
- two cloves of finely minced garlic
- a tablespoon of garlic/onion spice blend
- one tablespoon of Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning
- one tablespoon of dried chives
- one teaspoon of dried basil
- one teaspoon of dried parsley
• (Optional) one tsp poultry seasoning – I sometimes add this when I am adding chicken, but not when it is all veggies
• (Optional) one sprig of Rosemary finely chopped and sprinkled into the pot
- salt and pepper to taste
I always start cooking by selecting and gathering my spices together. For this soup, I used chicken bouillon, a couple cloves of garlic, dried chives, basil, parsley, MRS Dash Fiesta Lime blend and a garlic/ onion spice blend from the Gourmet Collection. I LOVE the Gourmet Collection of spices. They do have salt in them though so if you are trying to cut down on salt, leave that one out. A good salt free spice blend is the Ms Dash spices. A favorite of mine is the Fiesta Lime blend. It’s really tasty and you don’t even miss salt when you use it. And, yes, I LOVE garlic so even though the spice blends have garlic in it, I still mince up a couple cloves and throw them into the pot.
For a chicken base to my soups, I have switched entirely to the Organic Better Than Bouillon. I love the fresh taste.I don’t really have a spice brand preference. Oh Wait! I do. My preference is to buy whatever is on sale. By the way, I just went to the Better Than Bouillon site to get a link for you so that you can find it. It looks like they have a really good selection of yummy looking recipes on their site. You may want to it check out.
Chop your vegetables into bite sized pieces. Use whatever is to your taste or whatever you have on hand. Here I have onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots and green bell peppers.
Cut cooked chicken breast into cubes of bite sized pieces. This is chicken that I made in the slow cooker earlier in the week. I throw about two cups into the pot, but that part is all up to you. The soup is fabulous without any meat too.Use what you have on hand – that is the true beauty of soup.
Rinse your selection of rice and beans. I put together about a cup and a half (total) of small white beans rice, barley, yellow split peas and red lentils. For this soup, stay with the smaller beans. If you use pinto, black, kidney, red or any of the larger beans, the soup will take twice as long to cook.
Money saving tip: You can buy soup mixes, but it is cheaper in the long run to buy the individual bags of dried goods and then use them as you need them. They are excellent for slow cookers as well and they will last through many, many meals.
Add all of the ingredients except the cut vegetables and cooked chicken into a large pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat , cover and simmer for about a half hour, stirring occasionally. At the half hour mark add the vegetables. They are cut into bite sized pieces so they will only take about half an hour to cook.
Tip: if you want a little bit of a thicker base, stir more often. The rice will start breaking down and become a little creamy as in how you make risotto. If you want the base to stay more broth like consistency, only stir (occasionally and gently) to prevent scorching at the bottom of the pot.
Use a fork to test the veggies to desired firmness at the 45 minute mark. Lengthen or shorten cooking time accordingly. Add the cubed chicken at the last five minutes of cooking. Enjoy ! This soup freezes really well too.