Friday, March 11, 2005

Big Batch Vegetable Soup

Ok, yes, we do requests here at 4 Boy Dad. Here is our recipe for Big Batch Vegetable Soup. (It's not actually mine, it's from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, which is a wonderful little recipe-only magazine).

Big-Batch Vegetable Soup

This recipe can be halved, doubled, etc., depending on how many folks you are feeding.

1-2 chicken breast(s)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chopped medium onions
1 cup thinly sliced celery (if you like celery; I don’t so I never put it in)
1-5 mashed garlic cloves (depending on how much you like garlic)
a generous pinch of basil
a generous pinch of oregano
salt & pepper to taste
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice (our farmer’s market has these wonderful fire roasted tomatoes; I use those; if you really like tomatoes, use two big cans, mmmmm)
8 cups mixed fresh or frozen vegetables (Publix has a good selection of big bags – 32 oz. - of frozen veggies; I use two of those)

1. Bring 5 cups of water to boil in a large stockpot, add pinch of salt, a little olive oil, and the chicken breast. Cover and boil chicken until cooked, and retain the remaining water

2. While chicken is boiling, heat remaining olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, celery (yech), garlic, basil, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.

3. The chicken should be done now. Remove chicken to a plate and cover. Add remaining chicken-water, tomatoes and their juice, bouillon cubes, and 2 additional cups water to pot; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes.

4. While the soup is simmering, roughly chop the chicken into chunks and add them to the soup.

5. After 20 minutes (or so) add vegetables to pot, and return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Martha’s folks say: Freeze this thick and chunky soup now, and you’ll have the makings of quick and nutritious meals for months to come. Place soup in small containers, and then pull out only what you need; there’s no need to thaw the soup before reheating.
Some notes:
  • Don't use anything that can get really squishy, like zucchini or potatoes, especially if you're going to freeze or store this as leftovers. Eww.
  • A good variation is that, instead of boiling the chicken and using the broth, brown the chicken instead in the same pot you're going to cook the soup in. Then remove the chicken, add a little more oil and then continue on from step 2 as normal. You'll need to use 6-7 cups of water in step 3 in place of the chicken-water.
At our church, whenever someone has a Big Life Event (new baby, severe illness, death in the family, etc.) their Sunday School class usually organizes to take food over to the person's house. The normal "run" is every other day for two weeks.

In our old newlywed class (which we came to call Breeders), this happened a lot, what with all the breeding that did indeed go on (suffice it to say that we are not alone in our 4 child-dom). Usually, people made some sort of pasta or casserole.

But 2 weeks of pasta can get old pretty quick, and it's a shame to have to make requests of someone who's making extra food for you and delivering to you instead of eating their own dinner or tucking their own kids into bed. So most people just go on eating the pasta.

So to prevent hard feelings (and pasta glut), we started making this soup, and it's a big hit. This recipe makes enough for two families, with enough for leftovers for both. Plus, it's not a casserole.

And we like it so much, we make it even when someone hasn't had a baby! Wow!

P.S. The boys hate it, except for Stephen, who'll eat anything to get two cookies.


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