Over lunch the other day, while enjoying the homemade chicken soup (recipe included here), Hannah and I got to talking about how inspired we get by food that just seems to fall together--easily, cheaply, nutritiously. In this case, two rotisserie chickens (one of our favorite quick grabs), bought to make curried chicken salad the week before, had then become homemade bone broth (or, pretty much the healthiest thing you can make in your own kitchen...), and that broth had become this soup.
No recipes were involved (because I had made both of these meals several times previously), and each meal--the curried chicken salad and the soup--flexibly incorporated "whatever was in the fridge". I spent about $25, and ~1.5 hours of TOTAL prep time. Not bad for 8+ healthy meals!
Honestly, I believe that too many people get mired in the details of cooking, and in the process lose site of what's really important to them, their lives, and their goals. They might start with great intentions, but things get complicated and they end up turning away from the cooking question entirely...and go pick up fast-food.
And yes, fast-food will always be the easiest option. But between slaving away in a kitchen and eating food that will literally shorten your life-span, there exists a better way. It's a way that is open to change and adaptation, tastes great, and will sustain a long and healthy life.
The recipe below is meant to be one such "way", a guide that lays out not just one specific meal to make, but an approach that is as flexible as you need it to be. Because while each person will need a little different guidance on the cooking front, the "end" is the same for all of us: the ability to pull-off delicious, affordable (time and money) and super-nutritious meals multiple times a week (and then live on the leftovers!). With that skill in hand, we start to see people putting together weeks, and months, of consistently nutritious eating.
And progress--no matter the goal--just seems to "magically happen" when you're working on it consistently.
TFA Chicken Soup: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure "Recipe"
(~6 servings, 1hr)
- 2 TB bacon fat, butter, coconut oil or ghee
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 4-6 carrots, roughly chopped (opt.)
- 4-5 stalks celery, roughly chopped (opt.)
- 6 cups chicken or beef stock/bone-broth (preferably homemade)
- at least 1 pound of assorted vegetables (mushrooms, cabbage, peas, kale, peppers, etc.)
- 2-3lbs chicken thighs or breast, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil), jalapenos, and hot sauce
- Choose ONLY 1 of the following flavor combinations (customize to your heart's content!):
- 2 TB minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 2 TB minced ginger (a 1-in cube, peeled)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- one stalk lemongrass
- added later - 1/4 cup soy sauce
- added later - 1/4 tsp Red Boat Fish Sauce (opt.)
- 1 TB oregano
- 1 TB ground cumin
- 1 TB chili powder
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
- added later - 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 TB dried thyme
- 1 TB dried basil
- 1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
Heat up oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat; when hot, add onion and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flavoring ingredients (Chinese, Mexican or French), stir, and cook until very fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add stock and other ingredients if using (soy and fish sauce, or tomatoes) and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low--but make sure the soup is still slowly boiling--and cook for 10min.
Taste for seasoning (be liberal with salt and seasoning, as the veggies and chicken will make the soup more bland), then add your veggies and stir to combine. Finally, add chicken and slowly boil for 10min. Turn off heat, cover and let the soup finish for an additional 25min. Garnish and enjoy!
Comment and let us know which flavor combo is your favorite!