When we were kids, lunch was brown paper bags, maybe sometimes pizza from the concession stand. I loved lunch. By the time I was 13, I was packing my own, and it usually consisted of a sandwich (peanut butter and jelly or turkey), chips or crackers, yogurt, and dessert. Lunch was a bright spot in a day filled with classwork and school drama, and things always looked a little better after I’d had a granola bar and some chocolate (an argument for early-onset personalities, if ever there were one). Later, in college, I ate in the dining hall; as an adult, with a 9-5 job, I usually packed something or talked a coworker into going out. But, even now, as a freelancer who pulls leftovers like this crazy comforting, highly nourishing soup from the fridge most afternoons, I’ve never had to wonder where lunch was coming from, and lunch has never been the only meal I had access to all day long. That’s one of the many ways my geography and culture have blessed me—and it’s one of the many ways my lifestyle has been different from the lifestyle of other kids throughout the world, like the ones in South Africa that food bloggers today are writing to support.
In an initiative launched by The Giving Table, today we’re partnering with The Lunchbox Fund, an organization that has been feeding impoverished and orphaned schoolchildren for almost a decade. The idea is to gather together to give, in order to make a tangible difference in the lives of some kids in South Africa. What we like about this idea is that, sometimes, giving a small donation, like $10, seems pointless, like “What can this do?” but when a whole bunch of us give $10, it adds up to a lot more. The Giving Table’s goal is to collect $5000 today, and we hope you’ll consider joining us and many others to hit or even exceed that target. All money collected will go directly to feeding needy children in South Africa.
You may make your donation, and learn more about the project, here.
You can learn more about this chicken soup below.
Mushroom, Leek, and Red Pepper Chicken Soup
Beyond the obvious nourishing qualities of homemade chicken stock, this soup offers the additional benefit of killer flavors, from the sautéed vegetables to the rich broth. Topped by sprouts, it’s a cure for anything that ails you.
- 1 quart homemade chicken stock (see below)
- 1 quart water
- 1 cup (112 g) shredded chicken (see below)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3/4 cup (64 g) chopped leeks (from 1 leek, dark green stems removed)
- 1.5 (230 g) cup chopped red pepper (from 1 red pepper)
- 3 cups (240 g)1 chopped mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- leaves of 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- Broccoli sprouts, for garnish, if desired
Combine stock and water in a large stockpot (the one you just used to make stock works fine, no need to clean it first) with shredded chicken. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat coconut oil until hot. Add leeks, red pepper, mushrooms, crushed red pepper, thyme, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat everything in oil, and let mixture cook about 10 minutes, until mushrooms are golden and shiny. Remove from heat and add vegetables to stockpot.
Warm soup over medium heat until hot; taste; adjust salt and pepper as you like. To serve, top bowls with handfuls of broccoli sprouts, if desired.
Here are a few reasons to get more homemade chicken stock in your life: Research suggests it is rich in easily absorbable minerals, inhibits infections, combats inflammation, and promotes healthy bones, hair, and nails. But also, even beyond nutritional benefits, homemade stock is delicious---rich, dark, and chickeny.
- 1 4- to 5-pound organic chicken
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 4 small carrots, peeled and cut vertically into thick strips
- 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
Start by preparing the chicken: You can boil the entire bird if you like, or you can remove part of it, such as the legs and breasts, to freeze and cook later, which is what we did. Everything else goes into a large stockpot with enough water to cover. Add the halved onion, cut carrots, and thyme. Turn the heat to medium high, and let the meat cook, uncovered, for four to six hours. Throughout the cooking process, add water as it reduces, and skim off any scum that rises to the top. Add generous shakes of salt and pepper, but don’t worry too much about how much, as you will adjust to taste when you make soup.
Afterward, remove pot from heat and let stock cool to room temperature. Pour the pot’s contents through a colander or strainer. The liquids are your stock—They may be poured in jars or other containers and refrigerated (to use in the next week) or frozen (to use in the next months). We kept a quart to use for the soup below and froze the remaining quart in two 16-ounce mason jars in the freezer. From what’s in the colander, pick out chicken meat and reserve for other use, such as the soup below.