Saturday, February 27, 2021

The body craves warm soup in the winter

It is very important to consider the weather before preparing a meal. This could be one of those rare moments when grandmothers and scientists agree!

In other words, weather conditions determine what and where we eat and drink therefore preparation of food should change according to the weather.

With the winter rapidly creeping in, we definitely crave warm and hearty meals indoors as opposed to the fun vibrant cold salads, stir fries, sorbets and ice creams we have been devouring preferably outdoors throughout the summer. Winter weather calls for soups and stews and this means it is time to change direction in terms of how we prepare seasonal fruit and vegetables. We should gravitate more towards soups to warm our souls.

The good thing is that meat is never out of season. A good old chicken breast can go a long way when fused with vegetables that are in season to create a rich soupy fusion that enables us to eat for the season.

Here is a recipe which appreciates local produce that is available throughout this season solely to kick those winter blues away.

This one is bound to be a family favourite and I can easily say it is one of my all-time favourite soups ÔÇô creamy and chock full of hearty vegetables and tender chicken. The flavour is outstanding, the silky texture of the soup divine.

Often, cream-based soups can be fairly high on the caloric quantity scale, but this soup is thickened with cream cheese so you can use light!

And also add a bit of flour and milk. The result is a thick, creamy soup that is surprisingly smooth, light and healthy enough!

Hearty cream cheese chicken and vegetable soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

ÔÇó 2 tablespoons butter
ÔÇó 1 yellow onion, finely diced
ÔÇó 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
ÔÇó 2 stalks celery, diced
ÔÇó 1/2 cup diced carrots (about 2 regular carrots or a handful of baby carrots)
ÔÇó 3 cups chicken broth
ÔÇó 2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely diced (I like to leave the peels on sweet potatoes, if using them)
ÔÇó 1 cup milk
ÔÇó 4 tablespoons flour
ÔÇó 1 (25g) regular or light cream cheese
ÔÇó 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced

Directions

1. In a large pot, melt the butter and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saut├®, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, until the veggies are slightly tender and the onions are translucent. Add the stock from the chicken and potatoes. Bring the soup to simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

2. In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk the flour and milk together until smooth. Whisk the mixture into the soup, stirring quickly, and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the soup begins to thicken slightly. Stir often to ensure the soup doesn’t burn.

3. Soften the cream cheese in the microwave until it is very soft or melty. I usually place the unwrapped cream cheese on a plate and microwave it for one minute at low heat. I like it really, really soft so it does not leave lumps in the soup. Add the cream cheese to the soup in small tablespoon-size pieces. Let the pieces sit in the soup and warm through then whisk or stir the soup until the cream cheese melts and mixes in well.

4. Add the cooked chicken and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

This soup can be enjoyed at home or at the office with a buttered fresh bread roll. Bon a petit!

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