Spicy Chicken Veggie Soup

This is what I ate for dinner tonight:

I took this pic with my Blackberry; no ever said I should be a photographer.

It was delicious.  It also fits Cycle 1 of the 17 Day Diet, which I have been following lately.  I ate two bowls full with about 1/2 cup of fat-free cottage cheese and an apple.  I know that the 17 Day Diet says I am not supposed to eat fruit after 2 pm, but I don’t care.  I sometimes eat more than 2 pieces of fruit in a day too.  I am such a rebel.

Here is how I made the soup:

I sprayed a baking tray with EVOO using my new Misto Oil Sprayer, and then sprinkled Mrs. Dash Chicken onto 3 large chicken breasts before baking at 350 for about an hour.  While the chicken was baking, I went for a run.  My house did not burn down, and I wasn’t even a little bit worried that it would.
When I came home, I took the chicken out of the oven and let it rest to cool a little.
I chopped up:
3 large carrots
5 celery stalks
1 white onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
I threw all of the veggies in a soup pot with a spray of EVOO, and cooked over med-low heat until the veggies were a bit soft (I tossed the veggies in the pot as I chopped them, but I’d say it was about 10-15 min total).
Then I chopped the chicken breasts, and added 3 Tetra Paks of Campbell’s No Salt Added Chicken broth, 2 Tetra Paks of Knorr Vegetable broth and a can of Aylmer Accents Spicy Red Pepper tomatoes.  I sprinkled in a dash each of Sage and Thyme, then added a packet of Old El Paso Smart Fiesta low sodium Fajita mix and 3 bay leaves.  I let the soup simmer on low for about an hour before I dished it up to eat.  Like I said earlier – it was delicious!
What I love most about soup is that I can make a giant pot, eat some, freeze some for quick meals at a later date, and leave a bit in the pot in my fridge to reheat for the next day or two.  All of those meals from less than 1/2 an hour of actual work.  Soup is my friend.
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Chicken Soup for the 17 Day Dieter’s Soul

I promised recipes, and since I’m doing Cycle 1 of The 17 Day Diet, I figure that it sorta makes sense to start there.  One major change we’ve made with our cooking is to use low or no sodium products when possible.  Usually we find this doesn’t actually make a big difference in taste – especially when we use other spices to punch up flavour.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Except for baking the chicken, I did everything in one pot.

Bake 3 chicken breasts at 350° for around 35 min (I think – it might have been longer.  I actually did this the night before since I needed chicken for something else, then just chopped it and put it in the fridge for next day’s soup.)  I usually sprinkle with a salt-free seasoning like Mrs. Dash Chicken.

Saute chopped onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms and garlic in a tiny bit of Olive Oil (I’d say it was around 10 min by the time everything was chopped and tossed in the pot)

Toss in some chopped purple cabbage and let it cook until slightly wilted (probably 3-5 minutes).  I used about 1/4 of a small head since I had it on hand for something else and wanted to try purple instead of green, which I had used before.

Add broth (I used 2 Tetra Packs each of Kitchen Basics unsalted Chicken / Vegetable broth) and a can of diced tomatoes (I used 28oz can of Alymer No Salt Added).

Add chicken breast pieces and additional spices (I used a shake of Sage, two shakes of Thyme and a very small handful of dried Basil.  It tasted boring, so I added a packet of Old Elpaso Smart Fiesta reduced salt taco seasoning).

Simmer on low for a minimum of 15-20 minutes, up to an hour or more if you’d like.

The Verdict:  I’ll admit it:  I’m a title writing recipe misleader.  This chicken vegetable soup recipe concoction wasn’t awesome.  It wasn’t terrible, either, and maybe someone can learn something from it, so I’m posting it anyway.  It tasted alright, but both Rob and I agree that something was a little odd.  It certainly wasn’t anything so special that it nurtured my soul.  Sorry to deceive you – I just wanted you to read my very first recipe post.  I was already a little sad that the soup wasn’t amazing; I didn’t also want to be sad that no one was reading my first recipe post.  Plus I was kind of proud of the clever title, which I basically picked out before I even made the stupid soup.

Enough with my whining/groveling – let’s talk about what was up with the soup.  I have made virtually identical soups before that tasted fabulous, so why was this one weird?  Hmmm…excellent question – let’s figure it out!  I am pretty darn amazing, and my Grandma is basically the Queen of soup…so most of the time my soup concoctions are delightful creations.  Once before, though, I did make a beef vegetable soup that had the same “odd” quality.  What do these two soups have in common, you ask?  Two things:  they both had mushrooms, which I don’t usually put into veggie type soups, and they both used the Kitchen Basics Vegetable broth.  The odd flavour could be one of these things, or a combination of the two…but I tend to think it’s the veggie broth.  It’s darker than other veggie broths I’ve used in the past, and it had a slightly different smell as well.  Again, not bad, just odd.  I usually don’t care what brand of broth I buy (aside from the low sodium part), but maybe I will start paying more attention from here on out.

While it wasn’t a big hit flavour-wise, the soup was pretty filling.  The chicken pieces add protein, and all the veggies keep it thick enough to be a satisfying meal.  I would make this soup again, but I would try a different vegetable broth, or perhaps go with straight chicken broth instead.  If you give it a shot and come up with something tasty, please let me know what you did differently to make it that way!