mediterranean chicken soup

Let's talk comfort food.  When times are tough, what do you gravitate toward?  Baked potatoes with all the fixings? Lasagna with three different types of cheese? Or, grilled cheese? Really, anything with cheese is a solid choice.

My first pick is and always will be soup. First of all, it's a one pot meal with veggies and meat... That's a big deal.  Comfort food without veggies shouldn't be a habit. Nuff said. Second, it's a one pot meal! So easy, especially in the midst of holiday craziness. Third, soup is warm and toasty and calming, perfect for wintertime. 

This chicken noodle soup has a Mediterranean twist.  Chick peas and kalamata olives change things up in a good way.  But, the best part of this recipe is that the first few steps create the perfect chicken soup base.  You could add tortellini to it or a little cream and frozen corn to make a chowder. The possibilities are truly endless.

This is adapted from Real Simple, but I served it over brown rice rather than couscous to keep things GF.  (If you aren't gluten-free and you are reading this, can you just eat an entire package of couscous for me? I miss it so much.)  And, it's served with a lemon wedge. Whatever you do, don't pass up the lemon wedge.  Adding just a touch of lemon juice makes all the flavors bolder and warmer and some how edgy and comforting. Do it.  

Mediterranean Chicken Soup
Adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients: 
1-2 pounds chicken breasts
20 baby carrots
6 celery stalks
1/2 red onion, chopped
8 cups water
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons course ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
2 cups brown rice 
10 kalamata olives, pitted and quarters
Fresh cilantro

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes plus time for rice
Yields: 6-8 servings

Method:

1. Place chicken breasts in stock pot.  Cut up half the carrots and half the celery into one inch pieces.  Add onion, salt, pepper, chicken bouillon, and water.  Stir well. Bring to a bowl and let simmer for 30 minutes. 

2. In the meantime, cook your rice according to the package directions. Stir olives and cilantro into rice.  Set aside. 

3. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Strain broth to remove vegetables. Discard. Place broth back in pot. Cut remaining carrots and celelry into thin slices and add to pot.  Shred chicken and add to pot.  (At this point, your base is done.  You can take this soup in any direction you want to... Add your own twist. Just be sure not to overcook the veggies.) Add chick peas.  Bring soup to a bowl and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until carrots are just tender. 

4.  Serve over brown rice with a lemon wedge. Snuggle up with a good movie and enjoy.