Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chicken Soup and Shortbread

I started today thinking I'd probably just have a PB&J for lunch, but a few things happened to change me from doing that, to spending a good hour cooking my brains out.

I started really, really craving shortbread. Now that I know how wonderful my Kitchen Aid mixer is, making shortbread should really be a quick and easy thing, right? Well it was. Shortbread went into the oven with extremely limited preparation. All I had to do was add ingredients then press a button. Add ingredients, press a button. I could get used to that.

Then my husband came home from work sick with bronchitis and strep throat. He went upstairs to rest, and his only request was some soup. So I got to work making him a little chicken soup too. I have a couple of really fantastic short cuts that make it possible to create a really delicious soup in just thirty minutes, with a minimal number of dirty pans.

To make the soup:

Begin by quickly cooking a couple of boneless chicken breasts in a small skillet with a thin coating of olive oil. You may wish to season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Once they have cooked on both sides, set them aside on a plate in the fridge to cool.

Fill a small bowl with hot water from the tap and put a cup of uncooked orzo in there. Let it sit on the counter.

Melt half a stick of butter in a medium stock pot on medium low heat. Once the butter is completely melted, add salt, pepper and garlic powder. After the seasoning has been in for a couple of minutes, add 32 oz. of chicken stock. You can always use your own, and the soup is better for it if you do. If you use your own, you can probably avoid the butter. But if you're trying to make something in a hurry, this is one time where there's nothing wrong with using a store bought stock. Add the stock and let it warm up. Chop up 3 large carrots, 2 ribs of celery and half of an onion. It's important to get them all about the same size so that they cook evenly in the soup. Add the vegetables to the stock and turn it up to medium heat. Turn your attention to the chicken breasts. Coarsely dice them and add them to the stock pot. At this time, you will also add a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce and about a cup of corn.

At medium heat, the soup should start bubbling. When this happens, add the orzo. The final thing you are going to add to this soup is a "roux" of corn flour and warm water. In a coffee mug, combine 2 tbsp of corn flour with some warm water from the tap. You're going for the consistency of a thick liquid. Stir well with a spoon, getting all clumps out, then add this roux to the stock pot. This will give your broth a little body. Stir your soup well and bring it back to a bubble. After it has bubbled for ten minutes, it's ready to serve.

This only took me thirty minutes and it was greatly appreciated by my husband. I appreciated it too. After just one bowl, I was extremely full, and very happy about it. Now I also have a pan full of shortbread waiting for me to dive into it, and let me tell you, it smells divine in my house.

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