Healthy Meals, Family Style: Hearty Veggie Chicken Soup; good enough for company and kid approved!

Let me start by saying, this recipe calls for cauli-rice. YOUR KIDS WON”T KNOW CAULIFLOWER IS IN THE SOUP, or, of course, you can leave it out altogether and that would be fine as well.  Regular Rice or even crushed spaghetti noodles or egg noodles would all work well in this dish, just adjust the amount of time that the rice or noodles would cook in the soup before serving.  White rice and white pastas aren’t a great choice for keeping good blood sugar levels and even kids are better off in keeping their blood sugar balanced.  However, I also get it. Some days are more SURVIVE than THRIVE.  No worries!  We’ve all been there.  We’ve all bought burgers and fries for our kids or fed them boxed mac n cheese or canned spaghettios so they sure will be okay with white pasta in homemade soup!

I use cauli-rice (cauliflower that has been chopped the size of rice grains in a food processor or just buy it already riced at any grocery store in the freezer section, Costco is my store of choice for this) because it is more nutritious and lower carb than white rice. I have to watch my carb intake for my health and because I”m trying to lose weight.  The kids are all already an ideal weight, so they don’t need reduced carbs. They do need the added vegetable nutrition that the cauliflower gives.  My kids can always make some sprouted bread toast if they want some more carbs to fill them up. You could use brown rice in place of cauli-rice, just be sure to cook it longer.  Wild rice would also make a nice substitute for the cauliflower.

Alpine Valley sprouted bread from Costco sells for under $6.00 for two loaves, which is less than Aldi sprouted bread.  Not only is it the least expensive that I’ve found but it is also my family’s favorite for tasting close to “normal” bread.

 

Roasted Chicken

A few years ago I began learning about the benefits of eating meat that had been cooked bone-in.  That’s when I started splurging twice a month on hormone free, antibiotic free chicken.  I cook it in various ways, providing meat for that meal, and then boiling the bones and skin for bone broth.  This nourishes our bodies a minimum of two meals out of one chicken but generally I can get three collagen-rich chicken meals out of a chicken if I’m very careful how I utilize all the parts.

Some of the benefits of eating meat that has been cooked on the bone are:

  • added nutrients including collagen,
  •  improved gut health,
  •  economical factors – it’s usually less per pound to purchase, we can utilize the bones in multiple ways, and it helps us need less meat because each bite is more nutrient-rich. 
  • Also it is better for the environment to utilize as many parts of the animal as possible.

This soup is one of the many ways I can stretch my budget while still eating quality meat.  As I mentioned, we don’t always eat hormone-free meats but I do devote two purchases a month of quality chicken, and I’m still experimenting with different plans for healthy beef and fish.  Of course, partly it depends on how our finances are in a given week.  I eat more hormone-free meat than the rest of the family because I have been trying to re-balance my hormones (see “Val’s Health Journey “section that is being added to my website).  

In the following instructions, please forgive me for not using exact measurements for soup.  Most soups are very forgiving – lots of different amounts work just as well as other amounts.  I generally just let it vary based on what I’ve got in the house that I want to use up from my pantry or fridge.

RECIPE

1 Pkg Chicken Thighs or Breasts (I prefer bone-in) or cook a whole chicken if you prefer.  

3 Celery arms and preferably also the end of the stalk 

2 Carrots

1/2 Medium Onion

1 Red Sweet Pepper, optional

up to 8 Mushrooms, optional

1 package Riced Cauliflower (you could make your own by running one small head or half a medium head of cauliflower through a food processor).

1 Tbsp Himalayan Sea Salt

Chicken Better Than Bouillon (optional, and amount to taste) or any poultry seasoning or chicken bouillon

 

 

  1.  I put one package of chicken thighs  bone-in into the Insta Pot, turned to pressure cook for 25 minutes, filling the water up to the maximum fill line, including 1 Tbsp of Himalayan Sea Salt  and one stock-end of celery, (you know, the part you would normally throw out).   If you don’t have an insta pot, you can just boil it for about an hour.  If we’re having company, I prefer to use chicken breasts instead of thighs.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, dice or slice 2 carrots, 3 celery arms (that’s what I call them), and 1/2 an onion.  Those are the must haves.  I also like to add red or yellow peppers and mushrooms.
  3. Once it has thoroughly cooked through (the longer it cooks, the easier the meat will come off the bone and also the more nutrients from teh bone has gotten into the broth), take a large slotted spoon and remove the celery stock-end and all the chicken pieces and parts.  I like to put it all on a cookie sheet so it can cool quickly.  I throw out the celery stock end.
  4. Once you’ve removed all the chicken and celery stock-end, pour all the cut veggies into the broth.  Add in one bag of cauli-rice.  Keep it on simmer while you de-bone however much of the chicken that you want to go into the soup.  I don’t like de-boning hot bones, so I only de-bone as much as  I”m going to use for that meal and the rest I leave whole, put in a container and refrigerate for a later meal. Sometimes we have our college-age sons home and I’ll use a lot of chicken.  Other times, if it’s just the girls and I and Rich, we don’t need as much meat.  I separate the bones and fat into a separate container for making bone broth later. Don’t forget to put the parts into the fridge as soon as they cool.
  5. Once you’ve added back in however much chicken you want to include, also add: 1/2 – 1 tsp Thyme and 1 tsp Ground Rosemary.  I really like the taste of Rosemary but my family doesn’t care for the whole seeds.  Thus I have started buying Ground Rosemary.  I’m also a fan of Better Than Bouillon (BTB) and use it in everything.  It comes in Beef, Chicken, and Vegetable options.  I buy it for much cheaper at Costco.  You will be shocked at the price difference compared to anywhere else for this particular product.  If you like BTB, go ahead and add 2 Tbsp.  If not, add your favorite bouillon variety in the amount you prefer.   Simmer until the veggies are at the  amount of tenderness that you prefer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like to serve this with salad and with Abby’s Low-Carb Garlic Cheese Crisps.  If we’re having company, I might also make a fruit salad.  

 

 

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