[Big brother's first snowman did not make it to its first anniversary...or even past its first hour. But the boys had fun building him!]
In February it will be my snowmanís anniversary
With cake for him and soup for me!
Happy once, happy twice, happy chicken soup with rice.
- Maurice Sendak, Chicken Soup with Rice
When the wind is whipping around and the rain is beating on the window, I often find myself muttering the verses of this classic children's book. There is something so comforting in the thought of hot chicken broth and stodgy soft rice combined with every vegetable the refrigerator and cupboards can offer. If you have a cold, you can curl up under a blanket with a bowl of steaming soup and enjoy your favorite book or a trashy television program. And if you don't have a cold, it will keep you from getting one. And you can still curl up in front of the TV or with a good book, but without the box of tissues nearby. (Actually, come to think of it, hot soup always makes my nose run regardless of whether I have a cold, so perhaps the box is essential to both scenarios.)
Either way, it's serious comfort in a bowl. It's not fancy: you can play around with the vegetables based on what you have to hand. But this combination worked particularly well and not only did the Critic and I enjoy it, but I even gave some to the baby. All I had to do was pick out the meat, shred it more finely and stir it back in the soup. He was able (and happy) to gum the soft vegetables and rice and truly delighted with the dinner. It was much more exciting than his usual fare pureed leeks and potatoes or buttered carrots.
Making once, making twice, making chicken soup with rice...
2 chicken breasts
1 1/2 l chicken broth
2 leeks, sliced in rings
2 large carrots, cubed
3 cloves garlic chopped finely
3 small potatoes, cubed
1 small tin of corn (about 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup rice
splash of sherry
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp pepper
3-4 Tbs butter
Melt the butter in a large thick-bottomed pot. When it is frothing, add the butter. Let the butter cook for a few minutes, until it begins to smell lovely, and then add the leek. Cook until the leeks are soft and fragrant. Add the splash of sherry to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of leek or garlic that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients except the rice and chicken and bring to a boil. While it is heating, cut the chicken in small bite-sized pieces. Drop them into the boiling soup and bring back up to a boil. Allow to boil gently, not furiously, for a few minutes. Turn down to a simmer and add the rice. Cover and let cook for another 20 minutes. Serve in deep bowls with buttered warm bread if possible.
Note: If you are using store bought chicken stock, omit the salt and taste before serving to see if you need to add any.