Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Soup and Knitting

Sounds cozy, doesn't it - soup and knitting.  Sounds like autumn.  Now if only the weather would cooperate, it would be perfect!  I really shouldn't complain, it has been cooler here in the mornings, though we're still hovering close to 90 in the afternoons...  So sorry I didn't post yesterday, work has been busy and right after work I had to drive up to the Heights, a quaint neighborhood just northwest of downtown Houston, for my weekly Tuesday night knitting course.  I don't know that I've mentioned the course yet - this was our fourth week and it's been incredibly helpful in teaching me the basics of knitting, like how to cast on, knit, purl, increase and decrease stitches, and cast off.  Since all of my friends here are into knitting, and I've been wanting to learn for a while anyway, this seemed like a great opportunity.  Next week we learn how to knit in the round!  The picture above is my "test piece" that I've been practicing on.  It's no beauty, but it's not too bad, right?
Now onto the soup.  On Monday night I created a delicious Chicken, Butternut Squash, and Quinoa soup that I enhanced with some white beans and my leftover fresh summer vegetables.  I loosely based my recipe on this one here, though I took a MUCH easier route in cooking it all together and I subbed in the beans and my fresh veges for the canned tomatoes and the olives (not one of my favorite foods - too briny).

Ingredients
  • 1 - 1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 - 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried italian herb seasoning mix
  • 1 cob fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 yellow squash or zucchini, cut in half and sliced
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa 
  • 1/2 can of great northern beans
  • kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste
  • 1/4 cup each minced fresh flat-leaf parsley and fresh dill

Instructions
  1. Place the saucepan to the stovetop and set heat to medium. Add olive oil. 
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add minced garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.
  4. Pour chicken broth into onion garlic mixture and bring to a simmer.
  5. To the broth mixture, add the butternut squash and chicken thighs.  Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.
  6. Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and allow to cool.  Skim any foamy crud off of the top of the broth mixture with a spoon.
  7. Using a handheld stick blender, roughly blend sections of the broth/squash mixture remaining in the pot.  You want to slightly thicken the broth with the butternut squash, but you still want chunks of the squash in the soup.
  8. Add the quinoa to the broth/squash mixture and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes.  If you find that your liquid levels are getting low here (I did), then add a cup of water.
  9. Add the yellow squash/zucchini slices and the white beans to the saucepan.  Let cook about 5 minutes.
  10. Either cube the chicken or shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork.
  11. Stir the chicken, corn, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes.  I just season to taste, but if I had to guestimate, I'd say I use approximately 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, and 1/2-1 tsp each of the onion and garlic powder.  Start small with smaller amounts and build up to taste if you're not sure.  It's always easier to add more than take it away...
  12. Stir in parsley and dill and serve.
It's a great, easy transition meal from summer to fall.  Enjoy!

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