Comforting soup packed with vegetables, rice, and (optional) chicken.
When I get knocked around a little by life, I head to the kitchen to make soup or to bake. I’m convinced that soup, cookies, and cake are the original comfort foods, not just as hugs from my own childhood, but from all the generations of women in my family that cooked in kitchens before me.
I made this soup last week for a friend who was ill, and wrote it up as an article for Ask Miss A web magazine. Yes, yes, yes, I know, it’s written as a chicken rice soup, but I’m still cooking in my home for both vegetarians and carnivores, and really it’s so easy to make it vegetarian. For generations, soup has been an efficient peasant food; a way to cook up scraps of vegetables, meat or fish in a broth, and frequently stretched with legumes, pasta, bread, rice or whole grains. Ribollita from Italy comes to mind, as does a Hungarian goulash made with meat, potatoes and noodles.
- There’s a bit of prepping to do for this soup, but it comes together quickly, and some prepping can be done while the soup simmers on the stove.
- To save time, I buy a whole roasted chicken at my local market for this soup.
- Other grains can be substituted for the rice. I’ve made this soup using quinoa with great success.
Vegetable / Chicken and Rice Peasant Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts, thoroughly washed, and thinly sliced
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 1 serrano chili, seeded, minced
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 small carrot
- 12 cups vegetable broth, preferably homemade
- 2 russet potatoes, peeled, diced
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon sea salt)
- 2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup uncooked rice, well rinsed
- 1 avocado, mashed
- Juice from 2 limes
- 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish, grated
- 1 1/2 cup shredded roast chicken from 2 chicken breasts, retaining the bones of the chicken
- 2 teaspoon dry sherry
- Warm up the olive oil in a heavy, large pot suitable for making soup, over medium-high heat. Add the onions, leek, shallots, chili, celery and carrot, and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and rice. Add the bones from the chicken that the cooked breast meat was removed from. Stir in the mashed avocado and lime juice. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the Pecorino cheese and roasted chicken, and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the sherry.
- Serve piping hot in soup bowls with a salad and hunk of crusty bread on the side.