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~ My Twenty-Five Minute Chicken Thigh & Rice Soup ~

IMG_0555During the past few months, due to the illness of a family member, I've had to cook and eat more than a few meals in a hurry and on the run.  Even with a sort-of unlimited budget, I found out quickly how time constrictions affect purchasing decisions.  I'd never shopped the aisles of "quick cooking" or "instant" before.  I'd always had all the time needed to leisurely cook breakfast, lunch or dinner, so, I admittedly found this frustrating.  That said, I had decided early to look upon the drive-through windows as last resorts.  Successes intermingled with failures, but, before long, I was preparing a few good-tasting, satisfying meals using new-to-me convenience foods.

Six-plus years of writing a food blog has taught me that no recipe is too easy to write about.  As long as it tastes really, really good, it will undoubtedly "hit a home run" with someone "out there". It took me years to learn this, and, I believe it is one of the best lessons I've learned.  Simply stated: One-going-on-two generations never learned to properly cook or food shop, and, they're just realizing the ramifications of it.  It's why, when I temporarily found myself in my own "situational food conundrum", I decided to scribble down these seemingly insignificant recipes as I was experimentally testing and eating them, along with a few of my thoughts on my experience too.

Sharing is sharing & any tested, tasty recipe is worth sharing.

IMG_0568Some high-quality earthy stock, a few full-flavored chicken thighs, a jar of sliced mushrooms & some heat-in-the pouch rice = a nicely-seasoned completely satisfying soup meal. 

IMG_05301 1/2-2  cups Kitchen Basics unsalted vegetable stock, chicken stock may be substituted (Mel's commentary on and critique of this product:  I fell in love with with the rich, earthy flavor of their vegetable stock.  I loved it so much, I didn't even try their other flavors -- it's the perfect foil for additions of uncooked chicken, beef or seafood. Kudos to folks at Kitchen Basics!)

1 4 1/2-ounce jar Green Giant sliced mushrooms, undrained (optional, but recommended) 

1  1/2  teaspoons sea salt

1/2  teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4-5 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 1 1/2 pounds

1 8.8-ounce pouch Uncle Ben's Ready-Rice (Mel's commentary on and critique of this product: Ready in the microwave in 90 seconds.  It's not perfect, meaning, freshly steamed rice is better, so if you have leftover rice use it, but, when this is stirred into soup, it works and tastes great.)

fresh parsley leaves, for garnishing each portion (an optional but nice, homey touch)

IMG_0533 IMG_0533 IMG_0533 IMG_0533~Step 1.  In a 2-quart saucepan, place the chicken thighs with enough stock to cover.  Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper.  Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer, partially cover the pot and continue to simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thighs are cooked through.

IMG_0546 IMG_0546~ Step 2.  Remove saucepan from heat and transfer thighs to a cutting board.  Using a large chef's knife, chop the thighs into bite-sized chunks or small bits and pieces (your choice), returning them to the soup stock as you work -- the thighs are going to be unbelievably tender.  They will cut like butter.  Note:  The alternative to this is chopping the chicken prior to simmering it.  Doing that will indeed shorten the cooking time (by about 10 minutes), but, for me, it is more appealing to chop a cooked thigh than a raw one.

IMG_0544~ Step 3.  Heat the pouch of rice as the package directs:  1) Squeeze package to separate grains.  2)  Tear two inches, along the tear line at top of package, to provide a vent for steam to escape.  3)  In microwave, heat package on high for 90 seconds.  4)  Remove from microwave using the appropriately marked "cool touch" area on the untorn side.

Divide rice between 2-4 soup bowls, add soup, garnish & eat:

IMG_0566Relatively quick & simply-divine comfort food on the run:

IMG_0572My Twenty-Five Minute Chicken Thigh & Rice Soup:  Recipe yields 4 luncheon-sized cups of soup, 2 large dinner-sized bowls soup.

Special Equipment List: 2-quart saucepan w/lid; large spoon; cutting board; chef's knife; ladle

IMG_0526Cook's Note:  Another one of my newly-invented favorite quick meals involved simmering 2 cups of vegetable stock with 2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables, then, at the end, dropping a block of dried instant ramen noodles (sans the seasoning packet) into the saucepan.  Three minutes later I was eating a luscious lunch.  It was wonderfully satisfying.  To learn more, ready my post: ~ Confessions from an Instant Ramen Noodle Junkie ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)


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