Monday, September 24, 2007

Food that is family - Comfort Food

Cooking is something I love. But not just any basic cooking - Italian recipes are some of the ones I love the best, but I'm also into almost any kind of soup. Tonight I created a soup that probably would be considered at least partially in the Italian realm.

Soups have a comforting feel and since it's fall here I am focusing on the warmth that comes from good soups. And most people are surprised that you really don't need much salt to make them tasty, but you do need herbs and spices! I called the soup chicken and couscous. It's filled with thyme, bay leaves, celery, onion, carrots and of course chicken! It is almost as comforting as my chili according to my husband. But what it does is create a pocket of warmth in those cold fall days.

Season 2 1/2 chicken breasts with a pinch of pepper and salt and a touch of mild paprika. Heat a fry pan until hot and add 2 tablespoons olive oil in and when it starts to shimmer from the heat add the chicken. Turn down the pan to medium high heat and leave the chicken alone for 3 minutes while you cut the carrots (2), small onion, and celery in medium sized chunks - nothing too big. Turn the chicken and brown on the other side the same amount of time. Remove the chicken to a plate and add 1 teaspoon more of olive oil to saute the veggies until the vegetables are soft. Cut the chicken in large chunks and add them back to the pan with 32 ounces of chicken broth and 16 ounces water. Add your spices: 1 1/2 bay leaves, a large tablespoon thyme leaves and all the vegetables back to the pot. The final ingredient is optional - one teaspoon of tomato past. No more but you can certainly add less of the paste. Simmer for 25 minutes and serve over couscous flavored with a bit of olive oil and the broth from the soup.

This is really a simple dish that is comfort food for much of my family and friends. Comfort food doesn't have to be fancy, or even something elegant. It's what makes you feel like you're home where ever you enjoy the aroma and taste of something that means memories. Enjoy!

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