Friday, March 29, 2013

Easy Chicken Soup with Bacon and Chard

Make big pots of soups, stews and chillies -– they stretch a buck, and you can live off them for days! – Rachael Ray

My spouse said "now doesn't that look healthy." It tasted great too!

As I am writing this I just finished dinner and I do have to say for a simple chicken soup this one isn’t too bad. Not too bad at all.

This is another recipe where I am stretching greens. Over the last week I’ve used kale in three very interesting – and different – ways. This time it’s red Swiss chard.

This much chard...
You have to realize that there’s only two of us here so "greens stretching" is pretty easy if you're smart about it. But my experience extending meals with chard was a bit different than with kale. Most of the Swiss chard was used as a steamed side dish, so the number of meals was cut down to two.

I had two chicken breasts remaining on my refrigerator that were on my hit list, too. Something had to be done to accommodate both. It seemed options would be difficult.

That was until I started to think about it. I had an opened bag of egg noodles (from God only knows when...) so my mind started to think towards chicken noodle soup. But with chard?

Why couldn’t you put Swiss chard in soup? There’s no law (I know of) against it. The only thing to overcome – or enhance – is chard's earthy taste. But when life gives you lemons...

...and this much chicken. Fork is for
size reference.
There’s many herbs I know of that really go with earthy vegetables, but one stands out to me – thyme. Now thyme often goes in regular chicken soup, but what if I increased the dose, just a little.

Things were really coming together in my mind now. Toss in some garlic (not all that common in many chicken noodle soups) and you’re pretty much ready to roll.

The soup turned out wonderfully. You really couldn’t taste Swiss chard that much at all. But you definitely got the health benefits.

Stretching greens is a great way to use up those parts like stems that we often discard. That’s waste, and vegetables cost so much when shipped from faraway places.

This soup, besides using up the tail end of chard, os good enough to grace any homeey table. In fact, it’s reason enough to go out and buy Swiss chard especially for the purpose. Save the top 2/3 of the leaves for another time!

Chicken Soup with Chard
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 25 min  |  Serves 4
2 bacon rashers, diced
1 medium onion
1-1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
3 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
6 cups chicken stock
2-3 cups chopped red Swiss chard
200g egg noodles
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
salt to taste

Dice the bacon and render out the fat in a soup pot until the bacon is browned, about 5 minutes.

Dice the onion and carrots into small pieces and add to the pot. Chop the garlic and add. Sauté the vegetables with the bacon and fat until the onions are translucent.

This recipe easily makes four good sized bowls
for a hungry family.
Add the chicken stock, pepper and thyme. Do not add salt until the end because chicken stock salt content can vary greatly.

Bring to a simmer and then add the whole chicken breasts. Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the breasts to cool and then shred with a fork.

Add the egg noodles to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and cook for half of the recommended tile for the noodles (in my case 5 minutes).

Add the finely chopped chard and shredded chicken. Cover and cook for the remaining time for the noodles (5 minutes for mine).

Taste for salt and adjust as desired.


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