Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Do you remember the Chicken Soup for the Soul series from the 90's? Well that's not exactly what this post is about, but when I was trying to come up with a title for it, those books came to mind. I read a few of them in high school (not the one on the left), but looking back I can't remember a single story.

Speaking of looking back, I hopped over to their website to see if any of the title rang a bell, and there are at least 100 books in the series. Here are a few of their recent releases (which I found very entertaining) - CSS: What I Learned from my Cat, CSS: Tough Times for Tough People, and the best one, CSS: Teens Talk About Getting In ... to College. Yes, that's really one of the titles. I couldn't make that up if I tried!

Aaaanyway, like I said in the beginning of this post, those books have nothing to do with the chicken soup I'm talking about.

The title is actually referring to the amazing chicken soup that I made last week. Amazing because of the recipe, not because I made it. Last year around this time, I came across a recipe in the Food Network Magazine for Slow-Cooker Chicken Soup. I had just gotten my crock-pot a month before, so I was really excited to find a recipe that called for me to use it. And after enjoying it so much last year, I decided to give it another spin.

With the weather fluctuating so much in the spring, I constantly find myself wanting more fresh foods, but needing a little bit of comfort on the rainy/chilly days. This chicken soup is the perfect solution to a day like this:

Chicken soup will warm anybody's soul, but the addition of lemon, dill and feta, lightens the soup up enough to make you crave it any day - rain or shine!

Slow-Cooker Chicken Soup

Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 7 1/2 hours

4 carrots, quartered lengthwise and
   cut into 1-inch pieces
4 long strips lemon zest
4 sprigs fresh dill, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
   (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup small pasta, such as pastina
1/2 bunch fresh baby spinach
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces feta cheese

Combine the carrots, lemon zest, dill sprigs, olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. Season the chicken with salt and add to the cooker. Add the broth and 4 cups water, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About 20 minutes before serving, add the pasta to the slow cooker, cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir the chopped dill, peas (optional) and spinach into the soup and cover until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Stir to break up the chicken and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Ladle into bowls and crumble the feta on top.

 I served it with my favorite Trader Joe's heat-and-serve rolls. They only take five minutes to heat up, so they're perfect to top off my already easy, slow cooker dinner. It's been about a week since we finished off the leftovers and I'm already thinking about making it again.

 Anyone want to come over for dinner? :)

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