Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hearty Chicken, vegitable, and Rice Soup & Crusy French Bread

Chicken and Stock:
2-4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or one whole chicken
3 Tbs Thyme
1 Tbs sea salt (or regular table salt, but I like sea salt better)
1 Tbs black pepper
3 Tbs minced jarred garlic
4-6 Tbs Garlic juice
Enough water to cover the chicken by 2 inches

Boiled chicken, chopped or shredded
4 Large stalks of celery, chopped
1 Bag frozen carrots or 6 cups chopped carrots
28 oz packaged (canned or boxed) chicken stock (2 14 oz cans)
3 cups chopped broccoli
1/8 of a medium white onion, chopped
4-5 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbs each Thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and basil
Salt and pepper to taste
28 oz water
Broth from cooked chicken
1 1/2 cup rice
1/2 stick of butter, divided

Chicken and stock:
-Place chicken into a large stock pot or pot you want to cook your soup in. Cover with half the spices, flip and cover with the rest of the spices. Fill the pot with enough water to cover chicken by two inches.
-Cover pot and boil the chicken for at least 45 minutes or until the water has reduced to half.
-Once chicken is cooked, remove to a plate to cool, keep the stock on low.

-Once the chicken has been removed from the stock, add 14 oz canned or boxed stock.
-In a saute pan melt 1/2 of the butter over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted add the onions and garlic, remove from heat and season with salt, sweat the onions and garlic until they turn translucent. Add celery and the rest of the butter return to heat, stir well and cook until the celery is tender and the butter is melted. Once finished, remove from heat.
-Chop or shred chicken and return to the pot along with the celery, onions, and garlic.
-Bring soup to a low boil, add the broccoli and carrots along with the rest of the seasonings and chicken stock. Cook for 5-10 minutes.
-Add rice, stir, and cover. Cook until rice is done

Taste: 5
Ease: 2

Winter is in full swing here in Oregon and this soup really hits the spot, as well as warm you to the bone on cold winter nights. Since this soup is so hearty one bowl will fill even the biggest of appetites so it's great for a large family, or for a few days of leftovers. A slice of fresh crusty french baguette with a little bit of butter makes a nice addition to this soup. If preferred noodles can be used instead of rice, precook and drain 4 cups of egg noodles before adding them to the soup 5 minutes prior to serving.

Normally I pair beers with recipes, but the flavor of this soup should be enjoyed on it's own.

French Bread
3-6 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tbs water

-In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand or hand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
-On a lightly floured surface knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for at least 8 minutes but no longer than 10 minutes. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once (I usually use Crisco and the same bowl I mixed the ingredients in, no need to wash it). Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
-Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
-Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
-With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf (make sure the knife is SHARP and make the cut in one fluid motion otherwise the bread will collapse).
-Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done (sounds hollow when you knock on it). If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

Taste: 4
Ease: 4
Yields 2 loaves

This crust bread makes a great addition to any soup or pasta dish, or even alone with a bit of butter. Making bread is both easy and hard, the ingredients are quick to mix and there is a lot of time just waiting for the dough to rise. On the other hand though, the measurements MUST be accurate, the water temperature has to be spot on and you have to let it rise enough so that it will rise again/ stay risen. All the hard work and effort is well worth it though; the smell your house will be filled with, and a delicious loaf of bread are great rewards.