Soup is the definition of comfort food, especially during cold weather. This is a recipe I developed after discovering I had slightly high cholesterol, and it's a great way to use up leftover chicken. Typically, I'll buy a fully cooked rotisserie chicken, shred it, and use most of it for another recipe (like my Chicken Pot Pie Casserole or Chicken and Cream Cheese Enchiladas). Then, with the little bit I have left, I can make this recipe and have a healthy and delicious lunch that I have no choice but to share with my toddler. You could use white rice in this recipe, though you'd have to shorten the cooking time and lower the amount of broth. Personally, though, I feel like brown rice is far more savory and flavorful in soup, not to mention the numerous health and cholesterol-lowering benefits. Don't be fooled; this recipe could be considered health food, but it's still warm, comforting, family-friendly, and super yummy.
Dice the vegetables and mince the garlic. Then heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, dutch oven, or soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about thirty seconds.
Toss in the bay leaf, onions, celery, and carrots, along with a heavy pinch of salt. Let cook for a full ten minutes, until the vegetables are soft, stirring frequently.
Add the chicken, dried thyme, rice, and plenty of salt and pepper. Turn the heat to high and stir for about a minute.
Slowly add the chicken broth. Give the soup a really good stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cover.
Once the soup comes to a strong boil, reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 45 minutes, and no matter how tempting it is, don't remove the cover! After 45 minutes, turn off the heat, take out the bay leaf, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread.
-e. magill 12/30/2010
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