Cooking for Losers Tuesday – Kickin’ Chicken Soup

January 20, 2009

I’m already off to a late start, I meant to post this recipe yesterday but it’s alright. So, today is the first Cooking for Losers Tuesday – the idea is to provide healthy and nutritious recipes to eat while you enjoy watching The Biggest Loser (or that other show that’s on Tuesday nights that isn’t near as good but has much higher ratings) – guilt free! In these recipes I’ll shoot for low calorie and nutritious. By low calorie I mean under 400 calories and by nutritious I mean that it includes plenty of lean protein and veggies. I know this is probably pretty far from a good definition for nutritious but, whatever, this is what has worked for me. Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe in healthy food that tastes like crap. My cooking philosophy is a semi whole-foods type of cooking. If you’ve got delicious ingredients you shouldn’t have to do a whole lot to them to make them taste good. For example, I will never tell you to steam up some broccoli and top it with ultra low-calorie cheese – GROSS! If I use cheese, it’s the real thing and it tastes good – I just don’t use a pound of it in the recipe. Besides, I like broccoli, just give it a little sprinkle of salt and I’ll eat however much you put in front of me. But I digress. All I’m trying to say is that I am somewhat obsessed with delicious food and I also like being healthy and I don’t think those have to be incongruous.

So – tonight’s Cooking for Loser’s Recipe is Kickin’ Chicken Soup. I’ve tweaked the recipe and given it a sexier name because I can. You’ll find my recipe below which includes some spinach and less pasta and you can find the original recipe here.

This is an exciting week for me – tomorrow is both my first day of my last semester at Southeastern and the day of my interview with Regions. Please pray that the interview goes well – this would be the PERFECT job. So, after those couple of events comes another. One of my best friends of all time, Trish Reed, is coming to visit. trish-and-jess-dancingTrish and I really only lived close to one another for two years but they were some intense one. She, James, and I were on a team together in Philadelphia for a year and then the following year we continued to be roommates and became co-workers. She is one of the most amazing and passionate people that I have ever known. Trish still lives in Philly and has really given her life to the people of the city. It’s pretty outstanding. She is also one of the funniest people I know. She and I share a sense of humor as well as sensitive hearts. Most of my time with Trish has probably been spent either laughing or crying. This is what makes her a great friend. Man, I love her. I cannot wait to spend the weekend with her – it’s been years since I’ve seen her!

Ok, enough updating. Here’s tonight’s recipe. By the way, the baking will commence soon but I’m having second thoughts about cooking through a cookbook. I follow a lot of food blogs mostly through tastespotting.com. James calls it my food porn. Anyhow, I’m constantly bookmarking recipes I want to try so I think I’m going to cook my way through those. That way, I can post or link to the recipes so you can have them and I won’t break any copyright laws. I also want the chance to come up with my own recipes and share those with you. I’ve already made one of my own creations that I’ll be posting later this week.

Kickin’ Chicken Soup

  • 3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 TB. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4-5 carrots or a couple of handfuls of baby carrots carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on your spiciness bravery)
  • 1 tsp. powdered ginger (if you’ve got the real stuff, use that, I just never have it on hand)
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth (walmart brand is SUPER low-sodium)
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta or 1 1/2 cups egg noodles – orzo is great because it doesn’t get soggy if you keep the leftovers – a tip I learned here.
  • 2 cups spinach torn into bite sized pieces

1. Sprinkle the the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat about 1 1/2 tablespoons (just eyeball it) of the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. When the oil slips easily about the pan add the chicken breasts. Cook for 6-8 minutes on each side. Turn the burner to low and cover for 5-10 minutes until the centers are no longer pink. You could dice up the chicken first before you cook it but I find that this yields juicier chicken. Besides, I like shredded chicken in my soup – so, depending on your preference, dice up or shred the chicken once it is cooled.

2. Meanwhile, pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large soup pot along with the garlic and turn the heat to medium-high. When the garlic is fragrant, add the onions and carrots and a sprinkle of salt. After about 4-5 minutes the onions should be translucent and the carrots slightly soft. Add the cayenne (start with the smaller amount) and the ginger and stir until combined. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the temp to low and allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes.

3. After the 10 minutes is up bring the soup back up to a boil and add the pasta. Follow the pasta’s cooking directions for the cooking times. Once the pasta is done, take the soup off the heat and stir in the chicken and the spinach. Stir until the chicken is heated through and the spinach has wilted. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste, it may need more than you think depending on the sodium content of your broth. Also, if you can take it a little spicier, add the rest of that cayenne.

One quarter of this soup, a huge serving, has about 375 calories and should be really filling it makes about 8-10 cups. Remember, as important as it is to not eat too much, it is also important to not eat too little. If you need more, eat more. This is a healthy option to give you the calories you need.

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