Comfort Food Night: Chicken Soup and Rice Pudding

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A bowl of my chicken soup - notice the morel mushroom?

A bowl of my chicken soup - notice the morel mushroom?



Rice pudding - I like it warm with nothing on top.

Rice pudding - I like it warm with nothing on top.

No, as I told Larry, you don’t put the rice pudding in your soup. Cold nights (in the sub-teens) and hard work need comforting food. This afternoon I decided, when I got home around 4:30, to fix chicken vegetable soup and to make a rice pudding. By 7 p.m., it was ready. In order to do this meal, which can be labor intensive, you need to plan ahead. Here’s the recipe for the soup:




Chicken thighs and legs (I used one pair of each for this soup)
Yellow onion, quartered,  and including the yellow outer skin
Two cloves garlic, crushed
About 10 peppercorns
One tsp. celery seed
One tablespoon salt
1 cup golden sherry wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
 1 tablespoon peanut oil

Prepare to add later:

1  1/2  cups each, sliced carrots and celery, and cubed, peeled potato
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 onion, sliced  (I used the 4 mm slicing blade on my Cuisinart for this and the carrots and celery)
1 cup (or more if you like) cubed, thawed frozen white tenderloin of chicken
reserved thigh meat from stock 

1/4 cup soy sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce (I used my own sauce that I made this summer from my own Tabasco peppers, but you can use the storebought kind.)
Seasoning to taste (rosemary, basil, oregano, sage)
2 Tablespoons chicken base (I use Tone’s)
Chicken broth or frozen stock (I make this ahead and freeze in ice cubes, ready to use later) – enough for two cups. 


In heavy dutch oven or stock pot, brown the chicken thighs and legs with the onion and garlic. Don’t worry if the bottom of the pan starts to look a bit scorched; this is normal. Stir around quite a bit, for several minutes, until the onions are opaque and the chicken is brown on all sides and the aroma has a browned flavor. Add water to just more than cover the chicken, add the wine, and the celery seed and peppercorns and salt, bay leaf and balsamic vinegar.  Cook, covered, at high heat, for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to high simmer and cook for about an hour. Halfway through, remove the thighs and using a boning knife, remove the meat; return the bones to the pot. (The bones are important here, because they create the good flavor.)

When the chicken has cooked for at least 1 1/2 hours, remove from heat and using a strainer, separate the broth from the meat and vegetables. Discard the meat, onions and seasonings (especially the bay leaf, which is a choking hazard and should never be left in soup!) I know it seems like a waste, but the truth is, the good has been cooked out it and remains in the broth. That is why you add the slightly cooked thigh meat and the breast later. OK. Now add about 3 cups water and the stock, enough to have about 7 or 8 cups of liquid. Heat to boiling and add the other ingredients, but lower the heat to medium simmer. You can add anything you want here – diced tomatoes, mushrooms (raw are best, but I also use dried morels we combed the hills for in March and dry in my dehydrator, then place in the freezer in a plastic bag). Never overcook the soup! Mushy vegetables suck.

When the potatoes are done, the soup is ready. Serve with hot bread or crackers, and green salad. The leftovers keep well on this soup. Just stick the cooled pot in the refrigerator, with the lid on top, and you have tomorrow night’s supper already cooked – just don’t overcook it when reheating. Just get it nice and piping, then remove from heat. This soup is a actually best on the second day; consider fixing cornbread in a cast iron skillet, baked in the oven, to go with the soup on the second night, and serve washed table grapes for dessert.

Rice Pudding

This is similar to the the rice custard recipe my grandmother made. Don’t use too much rice or you will not be pleased. Using skim milk, Splenda and grated lemon makes this a diet meal. Just count the rice calories. 


3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (you can use skim milk if you want, or evaporated whole or skim milk.)
1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (use imitation when baking; the flavor is better than the more expensive real vanilla)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cooked rice (long grain or jasmine)
1/2 cup raisins (you can substitute 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel if you don’tc care for raisins)


Break eggs into a 1 1/2 quart casserole; beat with a whisk until lemon colored; add sugar or Splenda, milk, vanilla, and salt. Blend well, and stir in rice and raisins or lemon peel. 

Set casserole in a large pan of water, with the water up to 1 1/2 inches of the casserole top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees, stirring once after a half hour. Check at an hour; if a knife comes out clean, the pudding is ready. If not, cook longer, up to 90 minutes total. Remove from oven and from water to cool.  Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

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