Souper Douper!

Photo by cogdogblog on Flickr. Used under a creative commons licence.

Name a food that is (a) easy to prepare (b) healthy and (c) inexpensive to make?

My husband reminded us of one last week.

Soup.

But not any old soup. Homemade chicken rice soup. From scratch.

I know! It sounds like a no-brainer, right? Soup is soup. It has sustained people for generations. Yet, how many of us regularly make our own chicken broth? There was a time when I made chicken soup all the time, but I fell out of the habit of it, given that there are so many easy (read: canned) alternatives that can be ready in slightly less time than it takes to press a couple of buttons on a microwave. So why make your own? You just have to eat one bowl of freshly made soup, and the reasons become obvious. Homemade chicken soup is one of those foods that is easy and cheap to make, and infinitely better from scratch than anything that comes out of a can. It’s just nicer. And it’s better for you, too. As someone who avoids gluten, I know what’s exactly in my soup when it’s made at home. And it makes me happy. We should all eat what makes us happy.

Peter’s become the designated chicken rice soup maker around our place. Here’s how he does it:

At the grocery store I decided to buy the pack of 4 chicken breasts on the bone (around $11 vs $20+ for boneless). Boning the meat isn’t hard; however not being an expert I didn’t fret getting every last bit off the bones. However, I’d paid for the things so I didn’t want to throw them out. So I made soup. To the bones-with-meat I added 1 finely chopped onion, 2 biggish carrots, 2 stalks celery (with leaves even!), peppercorns, 1 large bay leaf, some thyme and 2 whole cloves of garlic plus water to cover, and simmered for 2 hours. After a night in the fridge, I skimmed the fat, took the meat off the bones, and added a cup or so of rice (and cooked for 20 min) and salt to taste. Awesome and simple. Boning the meat-5 min; chopping onions, carrots and celery-5 min; picking meat from bones and skimming-5 min; everything else-5 min. We had enough for 6 good sized bowls that blew away any store-bought soup, plus 4 good sized breasts that we cooked up the first night.

Four chicken breasts. Two meals, and one of them is soup. Of course, chicken soup freezes really well, but only if you have leftovers to freeze in the first place!