Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken pot pie soup

Comfort.  We all want it at different times and for different reasons.

Maybe Mother Nature is blanketing the ground with snow (I wish), and it looks like it'll take the salt trucks a while before they can clear the roads.  It'd be best to stay inside where it's safe and warm... especially in that little nest of blankets you can make for yourself on the couch.

Or, you had a really rough day at work.  The kind that involves one too many deadlines and eating your sandwich with one hand while the other is clicking away at a spreadsheet.  "I'm skipping the gym and going straight home to change into sweats and relax," you say to yourself mid-afternoon.

Perfectly good reasons to drop everything and just be cozy and blissfully stress-free.  I'm sure you're thinking of a few of your own right now.  The bottom line is that we just want to feel good, safe, and at peace.

What was my most recent comfort-seeking moment?

Last week, when I found a single white hair on my very own 27 years young head. !!!!!  [cue ensuing panic attack]  I believe Liz Lemon said it best when she uttered, "Blerg!"

Really, I didn't panic, per se.  I didn't cry or call my friends, or even dash to the nearest drug store for hair coloring kits.  (I was at work, after all.)  I just did exactly what I always do when a stressor pops up in my life -- I plucked that tiny sucker right out of my head before it could make itself at home among the brown curls.

And then I did what so many folks do and turned to food to comfort my aging (?!) mind.  I warmed up a bowl of chicken pot pie soup!

That's right, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you.  That's chicken pot pie in soup form.  Are you officially stunned?  I totally was.  Pot pie is one of my very favorite dishes, so any version of it is sure to get my attention.  This version, while still having all of the comforts of its pie predecessor, is both faster and easier to make and much healthier since there's no double dose of pie crust.

Let me break it down for you: tender peas, celery, carrots, corn, onions, and potatoes that have soaked up all of that chicken flavor.  Huge (I mean, huge!) chunks of chicken that would make any meat and potatoes guy proud.  And a creamy no-cream base where everything can swim merrily.  Not pictured is a slice of garlic bread that I made in order to soak up all of that goodness left at the bottom of the bowl.

Leftovers of the universe, you've got a new king among you!  This soup was great the day I made it, but I'd say it was outstanding the next day!  I know Matt agreed with me because we may have had a mid-day phone call just to discuss how amaze-balls this soup was.  And no, I didn't even tell him about the white hair.  I just ended the call and returned to my soup, letting my taste buds soar and sing and drown out any mental nonsense about hair color.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
(adapted from Gina's recipe)
-makes 7-8 servings

A few notes: This is a perfect weeknight dinner because it comes together so quickly.  I halved the recipe because I had other grand meals planned for the week, but I can say we would've had no problem polishing this off.  Add a slice of toasty garlic bread and you're set.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups water, plus more if needed
4 cups milk (any kind will do, I used 2%)
1 large celery stalk, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I omitted due to lack of planning and added more veggies)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
Ground black pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
10 ounce bag of frozen classic mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn)
16 ounces cooked chicken breast, diced small

Create a slurry by combining 1/2 cup of cold water with the flour in a medium bowl, whisking until well blended.  Set aside.

Pour remaining water and milk into a large stock pot and slowly bring to a boil.  Add celery, onion, mushrooms, chicken buillon cubes, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, frozen vegetables, and return to a boil.  Partially cover and simmer on low until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.

Remove lid, add potatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and slowly whisk in slurry, stirring well as you add.  Cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until soup thickens  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Note: As the soup cools, you may find that you need to add a little water to regain a soup-like consistency.  It's just so darn hearty!

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