Sunday, November 1, 2009

Onion-Free "Cream" of Chicken-Mushroom-Spinach Soup

Nothing like hot creamy but low-fat soup for a cold and rainy day. This soup is allium-free for those of us who have onion allergies but is still tasty and satisfying. Where did the cooked chicken come from? It's out of the freezer from the 10 lbs. of chicken legs that were on sale.

If you don't have a stash of meal-size bags of pre-cooked chicken in your freezer, cut some off a pre-cooked chicken from the deli counter at the grocery store. In a pinch, you could use the bagged, pre-cooked chicken breast or even canned chicken.

  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pkg. baby spinach leaves or julienned larger spinach leaves
  • 1 can fat-free evaporated milk
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Optionally, a dash of nutmeg or other preferred spice

  • Procedure:
    1. Place the flour in a small bowl or mug and mix in 2 Tbl. water until a smooth paste is formed. Slowly add up to 1 cup of water mixing slowly to prevent lumps as much as possible. Let this sit while you prepare the vegetables. Most of the lumps will disappear by the time you are ready to use this flour and water slurry.

    1. In a large soup pan, sauté the diced carrots and celery in the olive oil until the celery is translucent and the carrots are soft, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 minutes, covered, or until the mushrooms release some of their liquor.
    1. Add the flour and water mixture and bring back to temperature for another minute until some of the rawness is removed from the flour.
    1. Add chicken and chicken broth to cover.
    2. Bring back to temperature and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
    1. Add spinach, bring back to temperature, and simmer another 2-3 minutes, until spinach reduces.
    1. Add the fat-free evaporated milk.
    2. Season to taste with salt and white pepper and optional seasoning.
    3. Bring back to temperature and simmer slowly for another 5 to 10 minutes, being careful not to scorch the soup on too high a heat.
    4. Serve.
    This results in a relatively thin soup base. To make a thicker soup, skip the flour and water step but add raw rice or noodles when you add the broth. Simmer longer until the starch is cooked. Then add the milk. Cornstarch can also be used to thicken soup but it tends to get gummy when you reheat leftovers.

    Yummy, warm, with green leafy veggie and little fat. What's not to like.

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    Imprecise & Inexpensive

    Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.