Sunday, November 16, 2008

For Claudia

I know WAY too many people dealing with cancer right now.

And sadly, last week, one of them lost the battle. Claudia was an amazing woman with a true love of cooking. She was actually "a name" you'd know if you entered cooking contests, which she enjoyed doing and had some pretty good success at. While the Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Pie sounds devine, it's not quite in-line with trying to get a little healthier. So, I opted to make another award-winning recipe of Claudia's Lemon Velvet Chicken Rice Soup.

Of course, I didn't follow the recipe exactly. Since it's a Sunday and there is no rush on time, I opted to poach my own bone-in chicken breasts in some homemade broth, and since I don't think they make the roasted-garlic flavored broth anymore, I just added some garlic confit to the mix.

Starting to simmer...

Uh, when I remembered to add some pepper and Penzey's Sandwich sprinkle (my prefered "salt blend")...

While that is poaching, deal with the rice. I am a huge fan of these frozen bags of rice that you throw in the microwave. I am not good at cooking rice, and these things are just great. Perfect, fluffly, non-sticky and non-hard rice.

Pulled the chicken breasts out of the broth to cool and shred, skimmed the broth a little and added one bag of rice to the chicken broth. Also had to put my hand blender back together, twice, since the glue that holds the, um, stick part, into the base part has apparently weakened. I consider myself lucky it didn't fall totally apart while I was doing the soup.

Oh look.... frothy!!

The recipe calls for cream, but I wanted to try some half & half. Again, less calories, and the rice/broth blend lends a little body on it's own. Added the other bag of rice and some half & half.

And then the shredded chicken joins the party....

I did want to use chives, but my garden is long gone. The produce mart was out of chives. At the regular grocery store.... well... if you watch Kitchen Nightmares on Fox, there was an episode this week with a downright scary Mexican food place, and one scary thing they found in the kitchen was some packaged chives that were like a month old. The chives at the grocery store looked a LOT like those icky chives. I wasn't going to spend four bucks on nasty chives. I sliced up two green onions.

This was supposed to be a glamour shot, until I noticed a clove of garlic that did not get mashed up...

That's better....

Notice what is missing? The lemon.

The hubby is not a fan of lemon, at all. I swear, when I add a drop of it to something he detects it. I learned from last week where he had a bowl of the soup I was making that he might serve himself up a bowl, so I left the lemon out of the main batch. I did add lemon zest and juice to mine.

Without the lemon is was very "meh", but I loved it with the lemon. It's not overwhelmingly lemony, to me at least, just a nice touch to the rest of the soup. It wasn't as thick as a chowder, which I actually liked. Made it seem pretty light. But very easy and fuss-free to do, and very tasty.

There is a reason this woman won prizes for her recipe. And I am very thankful that she shared her wonderful talents, and her wonderful friendship, with others. You will be missed, Claudia.