Winter Warmer Crockpot Chicken Soup!

The weather changes, so we all get colds. It happens every year, but never fails to take us completely by surprise. Luckily for us, we know the cure (well, at the very least, the remedy): chicken soup. Just about every culture has their version of chicken noodle soup which is a simple saute of onions, carrots, and celery, chicken stock and pasta.  I don’t have any hard evidence that it cures anything, but I do know it’s what I turn to when I’ve had a rough day, feeling a little under the weather, or see harsh winter days infront of me.

Having a few great chicken soup recipes under your belt for cold weather and flu season will not only help you weather it, but will also make you look like a superhero to friends in need. If anyone has ever made you chicken soup when you were sick, you know how awesome it is, and how restorative it can feel. Chicken soup may not really cure a cold, but it certainly helps. Even if you’re in perfect health it tastes awfully good — and when made from scratch you can ensure that you are cooking up the healthiest version.

Here’s my recipe for the best crockpot chicken soup I’ve ever made! Give yourself a treat with this winter warmer.

First, I made my stock from scratch. Don’t be afraid of making the stock from scratch—it’s actually easy and makes all the difference in your finished soup. Simply drown the bones from the leftover roasted chicken carcass to give the stock a complex flavor, add some vegetables and water, simmer, then strain the stock. ((Please note, if you prefer a meatless soup- follow my recipe  for a fab veggie stock, then follow the same steps outlined here– just hold off on the birdy))

For the stock:
1 roasted chicken carcass, meat removed and reserved for the soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 quarts (12 cups) water
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

INSTRUCTIONS
For the stock:
Using a cleaver or kitchen scissors, break up the carcass into several smaller pieces so that they will fit in an even layer in the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven; set aside.

Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carcass pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned all over, about 8 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer (do not let the stock come to a boil).

Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, occasionally skimming any scum off the surface of the stock using a large spoon. Cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the stock at a simmer, until the flavors have developed, about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove and discard any large pieces of carcass. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a 2-quart saucepan and pour the stock through the strainer (you should have about 6 cups). Discard the contents of the strainer. (At this point, the stock can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated in a container with a tightfitting lid for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

(Here’s the carcass cooking)
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(Now time to strain)
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(Seperate clean meat from unwanted parts)
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Now that you have the meat— get your crockpot out and get that soup cooking!

For the soup:
2 medium carrots, peeled and medium dice
2 medium celery stalks, medium dice
1/2 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried pasta of choice (about 2 ounces)

For the soup:
Heat broth in crockpot on high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, measured salt, and thyme, season with pepper, and stir to combine. Cook until the vegetables are tender (about 3 hours)

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles/pasta of choice and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain in a colander.

When the vegetables are tender, add the drained noodles and shredded chicken, stir to combine. Cook until the flavors meld, about 1.5 hours. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

(Veggies & broth cooking)
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(Meat added to veggie-broth mixture)
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(Enjoying a hearty lunch!)
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Enjoy your soup!

In health,
Johanna

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Grrreat Grapefruit!

 

Photo by Suat Eman

Photo by Suat Eman

Tart and tangy with an underlying sweetness, grapefruit has a juiciness that is hard to beat! Although available throughout the year, they are in season and at their best from winter through early spring. Whether you love grapefuit {kudos to you!} or don’t, this bright ball is filled so many nutritional gifts you should not miss!

Grapefruit has far reaching health benefits, including minimizing risk factors for heart disease, boosting the immune system, helping with insomnia, and increasing your overall fiber intake. The fruit is naturally high in antioxidants and eating more of it’s juiciness can increase calcium and magnesium content in bones, leading to decreased rates of osteoporosis. Ooh, and by the way, it’s an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • Grapefruit sections add a tangy spark to green salads.
  • Instead of your morning glass of OJ, have a glass of grapefruit juice.
  • Combine diced grapefruit with cilantro and chili peppers to make a unique salsa.
  • To enjoy a salad with a tropical flair, combine chopped grapefruit pieces, cooked shrimp and avocadoes and serve on a bed of romaine lettuce.
  • Try broiling it! (recipe below)

Broiled Grapefruit

Ingredients:

1 large grapefruit
1 tps of honey (can also use maple syrup or sweetner of choice)

Instructions:

Preheat over to 375 degrees
Cut grapefruit in half and remove seeds
Cut around each section with a sharp knife to loosen fruit
Top with honey/sweetner
Place grapefruit halves in a baking dish and bake for 5-7 minutes, then broil until sweetner is bubbly
Serve immediatly & enjoy 🙂

In health,
Johanna

Wild One (one-pot dinner)

Did you know that adding whole grain foods to a heart-healthy diet is recommended to help reduce risk of heart disease, some cancers, and may even help with weight management? I’ve been incorporating a variety of grains into my diet and decided to go wild! 😉 I challenge you to have a little fun and go wild next time you are choosing a rice option. Below is a list of benefits you will find after becoming a wild one:

  • Wild rice is a gluten free food.
  • It does not contain sodium: good news for your blood pressure and your heart.
  • It does take about an hour to cook, but rewards you with a lovely nutty flavor.
  • It contains twice as much protein as brown rice.
  • Wild rice can be eaten by diabetics, since it is actually a grass, and the grains are not polished or refined.  Of course, small quantities are recommended.
  • It is very rich in antioxidants—containing up to 30 times more than white rice! Which means regular consumption of wild rice protects you from disease and ageing.
  • Because of its high fiber content, wild rice keeps your digestion smooth and helps lower cholesterol.
  • Wild rice is a good source of essential minerals such as phosphorus, zinc and folate, which give you energy and nurture your bones.
  • Vitamins A, C and E are essential for overall health and immunity. Wild rice contains these vital vitamins.
  • A serving of wild rice is lower in calories than other rice varieties, so you can enjoy it without worrying about weight gain.

Will you take a walk on the wild side? If so, there’s nothing like a hot bowl of chicken soup to warm you up on a cold night. Add plenty of veggies and wild rice to make this a one-pot dinner.

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Here’s my recipe:

5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups fat free half and half
12oz cubed
1 cup diced onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
(I like to bulk it up with more veggies…it originally called for 1/2 cup of each..up to you!)
1/2 cup all purpose flour (the not so healthy part of this recipe…but it’s minimal)
2/3 cups uncooked wild rice (You can also use the instant kind like Uncle Ben’s to save a LOT of time! Long grain & wild rice by Uncle Ben’s works great.)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. black pepper

1) Cook rice according to package directions.

2) In a large saucepan, cook olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic for 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Stir in the broth, pepper,  and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

3) Add chicken & drained rice into the broth. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4) In a small bowl, mix half and half & flour together until smooth. Gradually stir the cream mixture into the soup.

5) Cook & stir for 5-8 minutes or until it thickens up.

If you want to add more spices to it or add salt, do so as desired!

ENJOY! :)

In health,

Johanna