Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It’s Soup Season – Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Ultragrain®

I am a soup lover.  While we’ve had a few days of unseasonably warm weather lately, we’ve also seen some temperatures in the teens which makes me want to stay inside and warm up with a bowl of something hardy and delicious.  Soup to the rescue!

Previously, I avoided making homemade soups because I thought they would be too time consuming and would they REALLY fill me up?  As an athlete and working momma, I wanted something quick and simple that would provide meals for multiple days.  The good news is researchers at Penn State found in one study that eating soup before study subjects consumed a lunch entrée, resulted in a reduced total calorie intake by 20 percent compared with no soup prior.  The liquid in soup can really fill you up with fewer calories while vegetables in soup provide a TON of nutrients!  GO SOUP! 

After trying a few soups in the crock pot, I was sold.  The crock pot might be my favorite kitchen tool of all time.  If you can spare 15-20 minutes in the AM, you can have a healthy meal on the table after work in no time flat.  It’s all about the prep, people!   In this recipe, if you dice your carrots, celery and onion ahead of time, we are talking 5 minutes to get everything in the crock pot and you’re out the door.  Just set your ingredients out the night before and you’re golden.

Some key substitutions I made from a traditional chicken and rice recipe is kicking up the whole grain content with Ultragrain® flour to get additional fiber and phytonutrients.  This is a key for our family!  In addition, instead of heavy cream or half and half, I used Greek yogurt to give it that nice creamy texture which provides extra calcium AND protein to this tasty dish (just make sure you heat this element slowly so it doesn’t curdle).  You can feel amazing about serving this main entree with a salad and whole grain rolls for a complete meal with A+ nutrition!  Vegetables - check, protein - check, whole grains  - double check!   You will want to try this easy, delicious recipe to warm your family’s hearts and tummies!

·         1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
·         6 cups chicken stock
·         1 cup wild rice
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 onion, diced
·         1 cup carrots cut (I used baby carrots – already peeled, just slice)
·         1 cup celery diced
·         1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
·         1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
·         2 bay leaves
·         1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
·         1/4 cup unsalted butter
·         1/4 cup Ultragrain All-Purpose flour
·         1 cup milk
·         1 cup Greek yogurt (or half and half)
·         2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1.       Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Place chicken into a 6-qt slow cooker.

2.       Stir in chicken stock, wild rice, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves;  season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.  Add mushrooms during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

3.       Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred, using two forks.

4.       Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and Greek yogurt (or half and half) and cook, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes;  season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.       Stir chicken and milk mixture into the slow cooker.  If the soup is too thick, add more broth as needed until desired consistency is reached.  If soup is too thin, then a little bit of cornstarch can also help thicken it up! 

6.       Serve immediately, garnish with parsley, if desired.

I've been a bit sick this week, so I've been enjoying this soup so much!  

I like to end with some happy snaps, so enjoy these photos of our little miss Emma who is growing like crazy!  

Six months old already!  The time is flying! 

Our happy girl on Valentines Day! 

Family photo in the Caymans!  Emma is chewing away with TWO bottom teeth coming in right next to each other! 

 Baby's first kayak!  We had a lifejacket for her, but she wouldn't wear it.  It might have been one of our more bold (ok stupid) parenting moves, but the water was only about six feet deep and Kyle and I are very experienced both in kayaking and in swimming so we felt we had a good handle on it!  All turned out fine!  

Till next time!  Enjoy the soup! 

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