Sunday, January 4, 2009

Less Is More

It's never really been my style, but for the past two weeks I've been ruthlessly de-cluttering. Books? That's what libraries are for - two boxes went to Goodwill. Rarely-used serving dishes? Banished to the basement. Dogs? Well, they can stay but no shedding, guys. I mean it. And on top of all that I found my labelmaker and, well, pairing a decluttering urge with a snazzy little labelmaker has made the basement (part of it, anyway) look like someone organized lives here. I hope she sticks around.

Obviously with all this activity - and with Sweetie out of town - a big dinner wasn't really happenin'. You know, when doing a Big Clean it always looks a lot worse before it looks better! It's what I like to call "infrastructure cleaning" - at its core, it's in better shape, it's just not obvious yet through the mess I made while getting to the stuff to be thrown out. Right? Right??? Atlanta has been plenty dreary and foggy and rainy this weekend - in other words, good soup weather.

Periodically I'm swiveling in my seat to look at my sparkling-clean kitchen counter. Pathetic.

One of the best things about chicken soup is its versatility. It can be a thin, light, fresh soup before a main course; a comforting slurpable when under the weather; an elegant cream dish; or a robust, hearty main course. I went the main course route this evening.

This recipe is mostly hands-off, but because of the 50 minutes required to roast the vegetables and the additional hour of cooking time, you can't do an impromptu soup-making with this recipe. But for today, when I was home most of the day but too busy to stand over the stove, it was perfect. The caramelized vegetables give a lovely depth and sweetness to the soup. Fresh rosemary is essential - dried just won't cut it in this.

You may notice that there is minimal seasoning - just garlic and rosemary. I had my doubts about that because I love lots of herbs, but the soup was terrific. I added a little salt and pepper, but that's it.

If you're planning to have leftovers (this will be my lunch tomorrow), keep a little broth on hand. The pasta soaks up broth like nobody's business.

Roasted Vegetable-Rosemary Chicken Soup
Cooking Light

8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup

1 cup (1-inch) cubed carrot - just shred it.
1 cup (1-inch) cubed onion (I don't know what "cubed onion" is. Just chop it.)
1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms (too thin, and they'll burn)
1 cup (1-inch) pieces celery (I didn't include it - cooked celery creeps me out)
1 cup (1-inch) pieces red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (use vegetable oil if that's what you have)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups uncooked whole wheat rotini pasta (I used orzo, the tiny rice-looking pasta, instead) - gluten-free pasta works fine

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; drizzle with oil, and toss well to coat. Arrange vegetable mixture in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan lined with foil. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

At this point, if you need to put the brakes on the recipe go ahead - you can roast the vegetables in the morning and put the soup together in the evening if that's more convenient for you.

Combine water, rosemary, salt, garlic, broth, and chicken in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Add roasted vegetables; simmer 30 minutes. Bring soup to a boil. Add pasta; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

I love it ~ another recipe to try! My only New Year's resolution is to try a new recipe every week to try to break out my rut. As a newly single person, a whole rotisserie chicken is way too much. Even a half one (available at Kroger) can be boring. The second day, I have been creating a stew with pulled chicken, onion, gravy and mushrooms served over rice. I usually use turkey carcass for soup but I will try this recipe next time.