Welcome to my "Florida" blog

Being a third generation Florida native, I'm completely enamored with the diverse beauty of this gorgeous peninsula. For most of the year the weather is divine which makes exploring its unlimited nooks and crannies fun and easy.

Wherever I go I appreciate nature and the world around me. Come along with me as I share the places I visit and perhaps a few other amusements I find interesting along the way.

(FYI: Every post prior to January 1, 2009 was previously published and imported from my garden blog)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tummy Warming Comfort Food

Homemade soup is just the ticket for chilly winter weather. I can't remember a winter when there were so many eligible nights and weekends for a good, yummy soup to take the chill off from head to toe.

Soup is just fun to make. There are so many combinations and ways to throw a good soup together. This winter I came up with one that has become my favorite. That usually is the case until I come up with another that is my favorite. But right now this one gets top billing.

I love to cook but rarely cook from a recipe. But I'm going to do my best to give out some good approximate directions for this soup. Because if you like soup ~~ you are going to want to make this one.
Wild Rice Creamy Chicken (or whatever you decide you want to call it ~~ that's just the name I came up with).
Don't let my estimated amounts on the ingredients scare you. You really can't go wrong if you just do what feels right in cases like making soup.

Start with the stock! This is really important. Don't try to skimp on this step because like a good garden starts with the soil~~~ a good soup starts with the stock.
Chicken Stock
Ingredients (in estimated amounts):
A whole fryer
2 or 3 stalks of celery (cut in half or leave whole)
2 or 3 carrots (cut in half or leave whole)
2 or 3 onions (cut in half or quarters)
Salt to taste
2 Tbls 'Better Than Boullion' Chicken Base
2 cloves of garlic (optional)
Put all ingredients in your largest pot and add water to almost the top. Bring it to a boil and then turn it down to cook slowly.
When the chicken is falling apart (about an hour or 1.5) lift it out of the pot and set it aside to debone when cooled.
All that remarkably yummy flavor in a liquid!

Remove all other ingredients (cooked onions, carrots, celery) from broth and discard.
Note: I usually do this next part at the same time I start my stock.
Cook wild rice and brown rice together in a separate pot (from stock).
I always use 100% Natural Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice (this is not a step to take a short cut on either~~ cultivated wild rice is just too superb!) ... never instant or quick cook... same with brown rice.
After I cook my wild rice (following pkg directions) which takes about 55 minutes for it to pop open and have that wonderful nutty texture and flavor... then I add another 1-1/2 c of water right on top of the wild rice, bring that to a boil and add 3/4 c of brown rice and cook for another 30 minutes then remove from heat.
Next Step...
Don't cringe or try to act like you don't like it... you're going to need to melt an entire stick of butter on low. Yes, an entire stick. Trust me you are going to love this.

Simmer together following ingredients in the butter:
3 or 4 stalks of celery chopped
2 or 3 (med)onions chopped
3 or 4 carrots sliced thin or sometimes I grate them for a different texture
2 or 3 leeks (depending on size) Leeks add a wonderfully mild oniony taste to just about any soup.

Oops... I took this photo before I added the carrots. But, believe me, I added the carrots.
Once these ingredients have simmered for about 8 minutes (give or take one or two ~I'm guessing here) add flour a tablespoon (approx.) at a time sprinkling it right on the veggies but stirring all the while. If you aren't comfortable with adding it right on top of the veggies, you can remove them and set them aside to work directly with the butter and flour.
This step is like making gravy. Everything in the pot will start pasting together. Keep stirring on med. high for a few minutes. At this point slowly add the liquid chicken broth back in.
It goes without saying to keep stirring. I sure hope all this is making any sense whatsoever.

And don't forget the mushrooms. I prefer to use an entire package of baby portabello. I only had white mushrooms on this occasion. They work well, too. Chop them up and
pour them in.
Now all that good chicken you deboned while the ingredients were simmering is ready to go into the pot. And then all that wild and brown rice you cooked earlier.

Lastly, I walk out to the garden and choose some really nice stems of parsley. Both flat and curly along with some basil. Chop it up and throw them in the pot.
Well, actually this is the lastly...
Once everything is all stirred together and salted to taste remove the pot from the burner and slowly stir in 1/2 and 1/2 (or even heavy cream if you want to make it really rich) to thicken it to the creaminess you desire.
Toast some fresh cuban bread with garlic salt and warm your little heart with some smacking good soup.