Sunday, October 9, 2011

Classic with a Twist

I started cooking in the most American way..... it did not involve days in the kitchen with my grandma, nor holidays spent mastering family recipes.  Though my mother is a fantastic cook, she thought better than to move an unwilling ADD child into the kitchen to mess up her groove.  I started cooking from a Rival Crock Pot and a Fix it and Forget it cookbook.  About a month later, I had grown accustomed to skipping the drive thru, but was quite sick of soup.  My next cookbook purchase was entitled "chicken".  My aspirations were not high in the beginning years.  I still have that ten year old crockpot, and on occasion, break it out for a slow simmered meal.  

My family has come to expect chicken soup on at the first sign of a cold, allergies or general bad day.  As I walked my youngest into school last week amidst a sea of hacking children, I was sure fall's first cold was upon us.  This recipe from Food Network Magazine takes your everday chicken soup and gives it a twist.  With lemon zest, fresh dill and a sprinkling of feta cheese, this soup is delicious and unexpected.  Simple to prepare, it is the perfect thing to throw together pre work, and enjoy with a crusty piece of bread in the evening.

Slow-Cooker Chicken and Pasta Soup
Food Network Magazine April 2010 (adapted somewhat)
4 carrots quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 long strips lemon zest
4 sprigs fresh dill plus 2-3 TB chopped
kosher salt
4 skills, boneless chicken breasts
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup small pasta
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 bunch fresh spinach, stemmed
freshly ground pepper
4 ounces feta cheese
Lemon wedges and crusty bread

  1. Combine the carrots, lemon zest, dill sprigs, olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 5-6 quart slow cooker.  Season the chicken with salt and add to the cooker.  Add the broth and 4 cups water, cover and cook on low, about 8 hours.  
  2. About 20 minutes before serving, bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook 1 cup pasta according to package instructions. Drain, and reserve. (The original recipe suggests placing the dry pasta into the crock pot 20 minutes before serving.  I don't like doing this as I think the pasta takes on a weird texture.) 
  3. Remove chicken from the crock and using two forks, shred into bite sized pieces.  Return to the crock pot.  Stir the chopped dill, peas, and spinach into the soup and cover until the spinach wilts, about 2  minutes.  Add pasta, and season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowl and crumble feta on top.  Serve with lemon wedge and crusty bread.  
What a fantastic take on traditional chicken noodle; a perfect way to ward off your fall sniffles, or just end a long day in the cold. 

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