Thursday, April 28, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Broth


Homemade chicken broth is easy.  Eeeaaasy!  Especially if you have a slow cooker. 

It's also cheeeap if you have leftover chicken bits and bones from a roast chicken.  I used the bits and bones from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. 

I'm a bit picky about my chicken broth; I only buy the kind that is sodium-free and has reduced-fat.  Unfortunately, that's also the expensive kind at the grocery store.  (Which brings me to my perennial question: Why is healthy food more expensive?? If it's good for you, then it should be cheaper, yes?)  So I decided to make my own. 

The prep work is non-existent if you use frozen, pre-sliced/chopped veggies.  It's still very fast if you roughly chop fresh vegetables.  After cooking, I strain out the solids and refrigerate the broth overnight.  Skim off the solidified fat in the morning and ta-da... Homemade, sodium-free, reduced-fat chicken broth!

The broth is a lovely caramel color and it is great for use in other soups, sauces, and to make couscous.  I used it in my Potato-Artichoke Soup.  I recommend using it Beverly's Parsnip Soup, Chicken And Couscous, and Cuban-style Red Kidney Beans.

Slow Cooker Chicken Broth
From Allrecipes.com
Makes 5-6 cups

Ingredients:

Carcass of one chicken (including skin and gristle--anything you didn't eat!)
2 carrots, roughly chopped (or 2 cups of frozen, sliced carrots)
1 stalk of celery, sliced*
1 onion, roughly chopped (or 1 1/2 cups frozen, chopped onions)
1 tbsp dried oregano
6 cups of water

Directions: Put all ingredients into a large slow cooker and cover.  Set the heat to low and cook for 8 hours.

*Note: Leftover celery freezes well!

A note regarding the nutrition information: I didn't include it for this recipe because it was simply too difficult to figure it out using the recipe calculator at Sparkpeople.com.  The nutrition information on Allrecipes.com doesn't sound right--there's too much protein.  I do think that this is comparable to a store bought sodium-free, reduced fat chicken broth. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Potato-Artichoke Soup



Artichokes remind me of giant green flowers that haven't blossomed yet.  They look interesting but really, what does a cook do with them?

I'll confess that I've never had artichokes outside of a spinach-artichoke dip.  I decided to try them since they are featured this month in my lovely produce calendar.

I know what you're thinking.  Artichokes don't sound exciting. Or appetizing.  I'm sure that I wouldn't have eaten them as a kid.  Then again, I loved eating canned asparagus.  Straight from the can, no less.  I was weird like that.  I still love asparagus but I've moved past eating the canned ones.  I actually don't like canned asparagus anymore--too mushy.

Back to the soup.  Photographing a green-ish soup is tough.  I couldn't find an angle that would make it look good.

 
See?  Green veggies swimming in green broth.  Sigh.  No-win.

It's actually supposed to be blended and I suppose that would make it look creamy and therefore photograph well.  I like my soups chunky; I feel like I'm actually eating something, ya know?

Thankfully, it tasted pretty good.  If I had some fat-free yogurt or fat-free sour cream, I would have put a small bit in there--it would definitely round out the taste very nicely but the soup works for me as is.  I paired it with a 3-oz serving of roasted chicken and brown rice.  Enjoy!

This post is linked to 1) Foodie Wednesday at Daily Organized Chaos and 2) Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen.  Click on the links and share the love!

Potato-Artichoke Soup
From EatingWell.com
Makes 8 servings, about 1 cup each

Ingredients:

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, choppped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme or parsley
3 cups chopped potatoes*
9oz package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
4 cups reduced-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp coarse Kosher salt
1/2 cup half-and-half, fat-free yogurt, or fat-free sour cream, optional
Additional salt and pepper to taste
2 cups water, optional

Directions:

1) Melt butter and extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, celery, and garlic.  Cook until the onions and celery are soft.  About 5 minutes.

2) Add the chopped potatoes and artichoke hearts.  Add the broth.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook another 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  Taste and add additional coarse Kosher salt and/or pepper if needed.

3) This step is optional: Puree the soup using either an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Add additional water to thin out the soup if necessary.  Be careful!  The hot soup can splatter. 

4) This step is also optional: Stir in half-and-half, yogurt, or fat-free sour cream.

* Note: I used frozen, cubed potatoes.  They are sometimes called "Southern Style Hash Browns."  If using fresh potatoes, you'll need about 1 1/2 lbs.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 109 (without the half-and-half, etc.), Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 453mg, Carbohydrates: 17g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 4g