Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ten Minute Blog Post! Featuring: Chicken-Rice Soup with Lemon, Fennel, and Baby Kale + Slow Cooker Citrus-Cilantro Chicken

First - good morning! Coming soon: cannellini bean hummus (and how to, you know, just generally, make hummus to suit your own palate; newsflash: we all have different palates!); crazy good, crazy chewy, crazy cocoa-coconut chocolate chip cookies (vegan/GF); ceviche-style broccoli, my new favorite Melissa Clark recipe (my lucky Winter Salads class participants get a sneak preview tomorrow), and homemade Have'a Corn Chip!-style tortilla chips. Today, however, I just have some soup for you with a bonus recipe for crockpot citrus-cilantro chicken.

Chicken rice soup

Second - ever so sensibly - baby kale is to kale what baby spinach is to spinach. Milder, cuter, not so tough as its big brother, still vegetal and healthy-tasting. You could easily substitute baby spinach or some other sturdy green chopped into baby green-sized pieces. Or ditch the greens. Life is short, follow your conscience.

Chicken rice soup

Third - any flavorful cooked chicken will do but if you use the citrus-cilantro crockpot chicken and pour a bunch of the citrusy-cilantro-y juices into the soup pot with said chicken, you will love yourself a little more, and probably love me a little more, as you ditch the spoon and just guzzle down a mugful of the lemony-cilantro broth you'll end up with.

Chicken rice soup

Fourth - this post SO did not take me ten minutes. It took me all day. You can tell because in my first sentence I said "good morning" but right now it's 9:31 pm. Children! I tell you.

Chicken-Rice Soup with Lemon, Fennel, and Baby Kale
Yields 4-6 servings

Olive or sunflower oil
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 leek, halved and sliced thinly (rinse well) or 1/2 an onion, chopped
1 carrot, halved and thinly sliced
1 heaping teaspoon Frenchy dried herb blend with oregano (I used Penzey's Bouquet Garni)*
1 teaspoon cumin (ground or whole seeds)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 clove garlic, sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 cups water
1-2 cups cooked rice or noodles or beans (optional, I used brown rice)
1-2 cups shredded cooked chicken (recipe below for best choice!)
Handful baby kale or spinach, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped, or a handful of fresh oregano or tarragon, chopped

* Just avoid an Italian herb blend. 

To serve: feta cheese, Cholula, fresh ground pepper

In soup pot over medium heat, warm a couple tablespoons of oil and add fennel, leek or onion, and carrot, with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until vegetables are slightly softened and fragrant. Add dried herbs, cumin, coriander, garlic, lemon zest, and another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir for a minute and then add water and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil. Add rice, noodles or pasta, if using, and shredded chicken, including any juices left over from cooking the chicken, if available. Return to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in baby kale and cilantro and cook for a couple minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with feta cheese and a dash of Cholula.

Slow-Cooker Citrus-Cilantro Chicken
Yields 4-6 servings (about 4 cups shredded chicken)

One 3 to 4-lb chicken
1 lime (or half if it's large)
1 lemon (or half if it's large)
2-4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped up just enough so that it can all fit in cavity of chicken

Prep your crockpot. Juice your lime and lemon, saving the rinds. Peel your garlic cloves. Mix together in a small bowl the salt, pepper, and coriander, if using.

Rinse and dry chicken with a clean towel (which is now no longer clean so promptly remove it from your kitchen please). Remove and discard any giblets or other chicken parts that might be inside its cavity (I have butcher remove these). Rub salt mixture all over inside and outside of chicken. Place one lemon rind half and one lime rind half, the garlic cloves, and cilantro into the cavity of the chicken. Place chicken, breast side up, in slow cooker. Pour lime and lemon juice all over chicken. Cover and cook on low for about 4-6 hours.

If you have a meat thermometer, use it! Chicken is perfect and juicy when thickest part of thigh is somewhere between 170 (super juicy) and 180 (still moist, arguably safer?) degrees. If you don't have one, use a fork and tear off a piece of thigh meat after about 4 hours. If the chicken falls off the bone nicely, juices run clear, and there is no pink flesh left, it's ready.

Once it's cool enough to handle, remove skin (or feed it to your underweight toddler) and shred chicken. Drizzle any juices on top and either serve immediately with rice and beans, or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freezer for longer. Great in enchiladas, soups, chicken salad, etc.

And now it is 10:07 pm. Good night. 


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