Wanna-be world-famous-author Snoopy said it best in the first line of his never-finished novel: “On a dark and stormy night….” If only Snoopy or his creator, Charles Schultz, could cook, we might have seen some memorable meals in that comic strip instead of an empty dog dish.
On one recent dark and stormy and cold night in usually sunny California I decided not to go out to the grocery store. Instead I looked in my fridge to see what I could turn into dinner. I found a roast chicken carcass with a few scraps of meat, some carrots, an onion, a few mushrooms, a package of mixed salad greens and some leftover cooked barley. On the windowsill were 2 plum tomatoes. An hour later we sat down to a colorful and filling soup.
Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Soup – serves 3-4 as a main dish
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil2 carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds or 1/2 cup grated carrots1 medium onion, finely chopped1 teaspoon chopped garlic6-8 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced2 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or 2/3 teaspoon dried rosemary1/2 teaspoon paprika1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon black pepper3 cups chicken broth or water + more if needed2 handfuls mixed salad greens, fresh spinach or other greens1 15-ounce can Cannellini, Great Northern or other white beans, drained and rinsed1-1½ cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces or slivers3/4 cup cooked barley, cooked rice or cooked spaghetti, cut into 2-inch piecesParmesan cheese (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, rosemary, paprika, salt and black pepper and stir. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have softened.
Add the chicken broth or water and bring to a boil. Add the salad or other greens, beans, chicken and barley and return to a boil. If the soup seems too thick, add 1/2 cup water or more. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the soup is hot and the greens have shrunk.
Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese, if using. Or let cool and reheat when needed.
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