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Good for What Ails You

I won at the Heifer Mad Cow Chili Cook-off with the recipe below!

Know that crud that’s been going around lately? Well, I’ve got it. Fortunately, it’s a very mild version, but I’m grounded this weekend. I had a lot on my to-do list and social events to attend, and now the poodle and I will be taking lots of naps. It could be worse.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling under the weather, I want comfort food. There really is a healing power to home-made chicken soup, and that is what I crave when I have a cold. Fortunately, I usually have some in the freezer.

I love to cook, and soup is one of my favorites all year. But soup is hard to make in small batches for one person. So, I portion about half of it into single servings and freeze it for times I’m not up to cooking. When I finish what’s in the freezer, I know it’s time to make more. Soup is so easy to make, even if cooking isn’t your thing you can do better than opening a can.

Making your own broth

I love the convenience of picking up a fully cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for dinner. But the best part of this purchase is what people usually throw away – the carcass. Practically free, this bunch of bones is invaluable for making your own broth.

When I’m done eating the good parts, I don’t feel bad about leaving some meat on the bones. I throw it into a pot or slow cooker with some carrots, onions, celery, salt, pepper, and maybe some parsley to simmer for a few hours to make some yummy broth.

The difference in taste between what you buy at the store and what you can do yourself will blow your mind. The nutritional aspects are fantastic too. Bone broths like this get extra iron, collagen, from the vitamin-rich marrow in the bones.

After the broth cools a bit, I ladle out the big pieces, and set them aside to cool. I strain the broth to take out the little pieces. If I’ve left some chicken on the bones, I’ll pick that meat off and add it to the broth. I usually cut up the carrots that boiled with the chicken to add to the soup too. The celery and onion are usually too mushy to do anything with.

This is just a beautiful beginning to your soup adventure. Now, you can throw in other ingredients you want in your soup to make it even better. I might add more vegetables, like peas or green onions. I like spinach too, but it’s best stirred in just before serving so it doesn’t get over cooked. I like to add a grain to the soup too, like quinoa or rice, to give it more texture and rib-sticking goodness.

If you’ve never done this, you really should give it a try. It tastes so much better than condensed, canned soup and has a lot more nutritional value too. You can feel the difference in your body. Never mind that the smell of it cooking is intoxicating.

Here’s a recipe from this same base that I adapted from my friend Robin, who brought me this soup while I was recovering from thyroid cancer, 12 years ago this month. Talk about a comfort! I love this when I have a cold too. Chicken and the heat of the chilis are magical when you’re congested.

I actually won the “Most Unusual, Yet Edible Chili” award at the Heifer’s Mad Cow Chili Cook-off one year with this recipe. Enjoy!

Robin’s Restorative White Chicken Chili

I like to start this one with a rotisserie chicken too, but I take off as much meat as I can from the bone as I can before making broth. Cut all the chicken into bite-sized pieces and refrigerate until later. Make the broth the same way as above but get rid of the carrots with the rest of the vegetables used to make the broth.

In a crock pot, or soup pot on the stove top, add all the chicken and these ingredients to the broth:

1 – bundle green onion, chopped

2 - cans white corn, drained and rinsed

2 - cans yellow corn, drained and rinsed

2 - cans white northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 - 16oz jar salsa verde (I sometimes use more than this or use a spicier version to add more heat.)

1 Tablespoon cumin (or more, to taste)

Salt to taste

Heat up and let simmer for an hour or more on the stove top, or in the crockpot on low for 4 hours. Serve with your choice of chopped cilantro, sour cream, Fritos, and cheese.

Stay well!

Headmistress Jill

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