Tonight’s Super Soup is a chicken & veggie. Here are the general principles of the way our little family eats (most of the time).
- We try to use lots of ingredients that are fresh (I know most people will think I’m silly but I’m not a huge fan of frozen, canned and even many times, dried foods. Quite simply I want my ingredients to be as fresh as possible. There are many reasons I try to do this but mostly I want to really get to know my food.)
- Our family chooses a “secret ingredient,” for the week. For us it makes it easier to make sure we don’t get into a boring food funk. This week is leeks… so instead of yellow/brown onions I use them here. I try to pick something that I’d like to try or something we’d like to use more. Sometimes I choose something that I find difficult, in the hopes that by then end of the week I’d have learned to enjoy them. A few past ingredients have included, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, cilantro, cranberries, white pepper… and the list goes on.
- We also don’t look to calories to make decisions about what to eat. Instead we look at the nutrition/calorie pay off. What are we getting for these calories? 100 calories in ice cream is in no way the same as 100 calories of oh… I don’t know, raw spinach. We want to capitalize on foods that will keep us healthy and full while trying to avoid things that are pretty empty in nutrition.
The recipe for our super soup is below but first I want to highlight pieces of this soup that really take the nutrition to another level. These are just a few of the high powered ingredients and some of their benefits.
Carrots: High in vitamin A (203% of the daily value), beta-carotenes and antioxidants. Why these matter? Carrots may protect you from skin, lung and oral cancers. Also carotenes can protect your eye health and your reproductive health. Protects your body from harmful free radicals. to find out more about carrots, you can see the health facts and benefits here.
Leeks: High in fiber, moderately low in calories, significant amounts of antioxidants, may reduce cholesterol, high in folic acid (prenatal, anyone?!) and also similar to carrots, they are high in vitamin A and carotenes, so lots of help for your skin and eyes. to find out more about the health facts and benefits click here.
Spinach: I really can’t write all of the great things about spinach. for me, it’s my absolute favorite super food because it’s nutrient dense and also such a usable food. You can throw spinach into nearly anything for extra impact. Spinach is filled with fiber, can increase red blood cell production, reduce cholesterol, protect your eyes in old age, protect from cancers, strengthen bone mass and so much more. Find out more here.
Garlic: Has proven benefits against coronary artery diseases, infections and cancers. find out more here.
Thyme: may prevent certain diseases, anti fungal characteristics, may help control heart rate and blood pressure, rich source of vitamins, thought to be a stress buster, may give protection against infection, antioxidants that can help with vision and skin.
Turmeric: know as being an anti-inflammatory (painkiller), anti-oxidant, and for it’s anti-cancer properties it may help control cholesterol, help build immunities to infection, good for red blood cell production and has high levels of antioxidants. Turmeric may help you keep away from anemia, neuritis, memory disorders and offer protection against cancers, infectious diseases, high blood pressure, and strokes. find out more here.
1 leek stalk
1 medium pack of whole carrots
1 celery stalk
1 bag (or bunch) of baby spinach
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium sprig of thyme
1 Tablespoon of turmeric
1 Tablespoon of garlic powder
1 Tablespoon of sea salt (1 teaspoon of table salt)
1/2 Teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of red chili flakes
1/2 Teaspoon of ground celery. (NOT CELERY SALT)
2 Tablespoons of clarified GOOD butter, unsalted. (please note, we try not to use much dairy in our house, so we remove the milk solids first when possible. because there is very little butter actually used in this recipe compared to the amount of soup made, if you want to use regular butter, go for it.)
2 chicken breasts, medium
1/2 cup of light brown rice
64 oz (2 boxes) of chicken stock
Clean up all your veggies. Leeks can be tough but be patient and rinse the stalk thoroughly.
Leeks- for this recipe, because it will be cooked over a long period of time you’ll use almost the whole stalk from the white at the bottom to the tougher green side at the top. I chopped these similar to celery only much thinner so that the tougher green bits could soften more quickly. You’ll want to cut off the rootish bit at the bottom.
Celery and Carrots- rough chop.
Spinach- I bought pre-bagged that was already de-stemmed, if you buy it whole take this opportunity to clean and chop off the stems.
Measure out your spices into a single bowl. (turmeric is actually an herb but include in your spices for this recipe.) I finely chopped my thyme but if you prefer you can leave it as a sprig to remove later. (nutrients for this are really only beneficial if you leave the thyme in the soup for consumption.)
Prep your chicken. Remove the fat, pat dry and salt & pepper. set aside.
So now you’ve got everything ready to cook. Everything in it’s place. Time to get started.
Place your butter in a large-ish pot. You need the butter to be barely sizzling. Add your leeks. Let them simmer in the butter on low with a dash of salt and pepper until the greener bits take on a bit of a darker color. Once this happens add your carrots and your spices. (NOT thyme) You are trying to lightly brown your carrots and release maximum flavors from the spices. Once the carrots take on a lightly browned color, remove the veggies from the pot.
The pot should have plenty of crusted on spices at the bottom of the pan. Great! You’ll need that awesomeness. At this point if your pot is looking pretty dry you can use a little more butter or in my case, I added a little coconut oil. Make sure you’ve got your pot at solid medium heat because you are about to sear your seasoned chicken. Once the butter or oil in your pan is sizzling add your chicken. Sear/medium brown each side.
Once the chicken is browned, reintroduce your leeks & carrots and add your celery and minced garlic. Allow to mingle for a minute or so over the heat doing some random stirring. Add 1 cup of your stock and use a large spoon or spatula to release the spices from the bottom of the pot. Once you’ve done this go ahead and add your thyme and the rest of the chicken stock.
Allow this pot to simmer on low heat as long as possible. (at minimum 5 hrs. I usually shoot for 6 or 7.) At this point you’ll add your rice and spinach and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.
Scoop & serve, you healthy eater, you.