So I thought it might be fun to try one Spark Recipe a week and post a little review of it here. Now here's the disclaimer - these are likely not going to follow the directions exactly. There's a few reasons for this. 1) Sometimes you are missing an ingredient and you need to substitute with what you have. A lot of us (myself included) are on shoestring food budget as it is. 2) This provides a different take on the recipe. You already see how to do it the original poster's way. I provide an alternative.
So let's get started, shall we? I'll try to throw some humor in these as well, just to make it interesting. And pictures! Lots of pictures interspersed with my ramblings.
I figured I couldn't go wrong with my first recipe being soup. I can keep most other things in check when it comes to nutrition, but when it comes to sodium, it seems like it's always "over 9000"! (not really, but a virtual cookie for you if you got that reference). So this recipe for "Slow Cooker Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup" by Chef Meg seemed like a good way to cut down on sodium.
Now, let's say you left the house and forgot to throw everything in the slow cooker. You only have about half an hour before dinner and all these ingredients to use.
Here's what to do.
1) Make sure everything is ready to go. Dice the chicken (defrost it, if you are a slacker like me). The smaller the pieces, the faster it will cook. Try to keep the pieces uniform so they cook evenly. Or better yet, you might have some chicken already cooked (yay me for thinking ahead for ONCE). Gather everything together and grab a stock pot or a fairly large pot (enough to hold at least 7-8 cups).
2) Go ahead and get your rice cooking. Whether it's a rice cooker or some boil-in-bag version, go ahead and get it going if it takes at least 10 minutes to cook.
3) While that's heating up, toss a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and turn it to medium-high to warm up (probably a 5-6 on the stove). Add the diced chicken and cook for at least ten minutes, making sure to stir/flip the pieces every few minutes. You don't have to baby it but don't leave it unattended either.
Are you crying? There's no crying in the kitchen!
(The goal is to get the chicken and the rice done at the same time, SO your cooking times may vary here a bit here).
4) While the chicken and rice are cooking, grab your fresh carrots and onion and chop them. Or grab a sketchy looking bag of frozen carrots out of the fridge and steam them in the microwave (a microwave-safe dish with some tablespoons of water for 6-8 minutes should do the trick). Also grab dried minced onion because you don't have an actual onion. Decide if you want any other veggies in the soup. I opted to add a can of peas (rinsed, of course) since I didn't have mushrooms (whomp whomp - I LOVE mushrooms), but this can vary widely depending on your tastes.
(Insert peas and carrots joke here...)
6) After they are done, take the chicken and rice off the stove and put off to the side. Dodge cats underfoot wanting some of the delectable chicken, and try to keep your own fingers out of it too. Believe me, this is more difficult than you think. Toss a few pieces to the feline minions to get them out of your way.
Like this cat needs any more food.
All dressed up for the party.
7) Throw all the ingredients (except the cornstarch and milk) into the soup pot. Use any herbs you like. I did not have oregano or sage, so I used thyme and rosemary. Crank it up to a 7 or 8 on your dial (high) and get it boiling.
8) Combine the cornstarch and a tablespoon cold water in a small bowl, then add to soup with the milk. Turn it down to a low-medium setting (3-4) and let it cook for however long you have. The longer the better, I think. As it warms up, stir it occasionally and please, for the love of Gordon Ramsey, TASTE TEST it. You might need to add some of the herbs you used or add something else. Just remember, less is more. You want to add a little at a time, because if you overdo it, you can't take it back.
9) After 10-15 minutes of cooking, it should be ready for the main event.
- I thought it needed a LOT more rice. I bumped it up to 1 cup and for 6 servings it was hardly present. I would add at least another half cup, maybe a whole one.
- The soup had a "creamy" texture, but it wasn't really all that thick like a cream of chicken soup would be. This could be because of the whole "skipped the slow cooker" thing. It was still good though. I think next time I might just try the cream of chicken soup, because I have 3 cans in my pantry that need to be used.
- I missed the oregano and sage. And I had to break down and add 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot. You wouldn't think that would make a difference, but it did. Or maybe that was my brain playing tricks on me. Like smelling bacon at 2am, in bed, with no one cooking. Just me? Maybe I'm about to stroke out. Nevermind.
- It is very hard for me to make a meal out of a soup unless it is stuffed full of veggies and protein. I would rather pair it with a sandwich. Obviously, deli meat is high in sodium, but I'm broke and this was in the fridge, so I went with it. I had the calories to do this (plus I used a little less chicken than the recipe calls for). Others may want to forego the chicken in the soup and then pair it with a sandwich or wrap.
Get your sandwich stuff all set up for the week (you can do this while the soup's on). If you have a small piece of fruit to add to each lunch, go for it. Alas, I am fruitless, but I would probably go for a small apple or clementine.
All in all, decent soup. I'd say 4 out of 5. I would make this again. But this time with mushrooms. Just not the hallucinogenic (wow, spellchecker showed me I really botched that one up) ones.
That'll do pig. That'll do.
Roughly 275 calories per cup. Makes six 1 cup servings. You can find the rest of the stats below.
Next week: Turkey Meatloaf (or as I like to call it, Gobble Gobble Get In My Belly Time)