A Snow Day and Pesto Chicken and Rice Soup

The weather here has shown an uncharacteristic propensity for white this winter. While she often indulges in her love for the sparkly white of frosts, she usually only dons the honest-to-God white stuff every four or five years. This season, which isn’t over yet, she has waltzed out in the swirly white dress no less than twice.

While I fully intended to make the trek to the farm, it seems that pregnant scooter-riding farmers get a snow day. With the unexpected day off, my thoughts turned to good snow day activities.¬† I was having trouble staying warm… it seems Hemingway is taking all my body heat too. So, instead of going all the way outside, we did our snow activities from the window. While Mr. Quotidian held the window open, I leaned out and made our snow avatars. A tall snowman in Mr. Quotidian’s likeness was easy enough, but I had trouble with the pregnant snowife. So, as a compromise, I fashioned a little Hemingway snowman separately.

Nothing could be more of a soup day than a snow day, so I turned my attention towards dinner. For me, soup must include two things if it’s to be classified as a snow day soup. It must be based on real broth that has been simmering all day, and it must not require any ingredients other than what’s already in my fridge, freezer, or pantry. (Extra points for being able to use leftovers.) The requirements, though they might seem random, actually have some reason behind them. The on-hand ingredients stipulation is for the obvious reason that on a snow day you either can’t or don’t want to make the journey to the grocery store. The broth specification has to do with the anticipation factor. Snow days typically involve long stints under blankets¬† punctuated by brief stints of outdoor frivolity. When I’m home all day, there’s something about slowly becoming aware of the aroma of stock simmering on the stove, attending it throughout the day, and then enjoying the rewards at the end of the day. That pleasure is compounded when my hands are cold from snow and they slowly thaw as I stir the stock, leaning next to a warm stove. Obviously these aren’t real conditions and don’t absolutely have to be followed to have a successful soup. For me, they are just what distinguishes a Snow Day Soup from any other run of the mill soup.

I just happened to have a leftover whole chicken and some rice from last week that was practically begging to be made into soup. In the morning, I picked all the meat from the bones and set the stock to simmer. Later that evening, I sauteed some onions and garlic and stole a few ladle-fuls of the stock, leaving the rest to simmer overnight. I also added a bit of leftover whey to up the protein content (pregnant you know). Because I had time to spare, I added what I consider one of the secret weapons of a good soup: a Parmesan rind. These take awhile to melt in, but can’t be outdone in the savoriness¬† and body they add to soup. When the rind was melted, I added the cooked rice and shredded chicken. Then, at the last minute to preserve its color, I added a couple spoonfuls of homemade pesto. Perfect. Even though I hadn’t been out playing in the snow all day, this soup bore the same sense of comfort and well-being that a hot meal did after my childhood snow days. With this soup, the weather can wear white all she likes.

Snow Day Pesto Chicken and Rice Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped
2 Tbs butter
1 quart chicken stock (opt. part whey)
1 hunk Parmesan cheese rind
2-3 cups leftover chicken
1-2 cups cooked rice
2 Tbs pesto
salt and pepper
yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche

In a medium pot, melt the butter. When is sizzles, add the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat them with the butter. Let them cook until they start to soften. Add the broth and cheese rind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let simmer until the rind is melted into the stock. If you have a few stubborn bits that refuse to melt, just fish them out. Add the chicken and rice and cook till heated through. Right before serving, add the pesto. If you add it too far in advance, it will loose its vibrant green. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a swirl of yogurt and a dollop of extra pesto.

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Posted in Uncategorized 7 years, 3 months ago at 7:06 am.

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