Healthy Meals, Family Style: Hearty Veggie Chicken Soup; good enough for company and kid approved!
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
Let me start by saying, this recipe calls for cauli-rice. YOUR KIDS WON”T KNOW CAULIFLOWER IS IN THE SOUP, or, of course, you can leave it out altogether and that would be fine as well. Regular Rice or even crushed spaghetti noodles or egg noodles would all work well in this dish, just adjust the amount of time that the rice or noodles would cook in the soup before serving. White rice and white pastas aren’t a great choice for keeping good blood sugar levels and even kids are better off in keeping their blood sugar balanced. However, I also get it. Some days are more SURVIVE than THRIVE. No worries! We’ve all been there. We’ve all bought burgers and fries for our kids or fed them boxed mac n cheese or canned spaghettios so they sure will be okay with white pasta in homemade soup!
I use cauli-rice (cauliflower that has been chopped the size of rice grains in a food processor or just buy it already riced at any grocery store in the freezer section, Costco is my store of choice for this) because it is more nutritious and lower carb than white rice. I have to watch my carb intake for my health and because I”m trying to lose weight. The kids are all already an ideal weight, so they don’t need reduced carbs. They do need the added vegetable nutrition that the cauliflower gives. My kids can always make some sprouted bread toast if they want some more carbs to fill them up. You could use brown rice in place of cauli-rice, just be sure to cook it longer. Wild rice would also make a nice substitute for the cauliflower.
Alpine Valley sprouted bread from Costco sells for under $6.00 for two loaves, which is less than Aldi sprouted bread. Not only is it the least expensive that I’ve found but it is also my family’s favorite for tasting close to “normal” bread.
A few years ago I began learning about the benefits of eating meat that had been cooked bone-in. That’s when I started splurging twice a month on hormone free, antibiotic free chicken. I cook it in various ways, providing meat for that meal, and then boiling the bones and skin for bone broth. This nourishes our bodies a minimum of two meals out of one chicken but generally I can get three collagen-rich chicken meals out of a chicken if I’m very careful how I utilize all the parts.
Some of the benefits of eating meat that has been cooked on the bone are:
added nutrients including collagen, improved gut health, economical factors – it’s usually less per pound to purchase, we can utilize the bones in multiple ways, and it helps us need less meat because each bite is more nutrient-rich. Also it is better for the environment to utilize as many parts of the animal as possible.
This soup is one of the many ways I can stretch my budget while still eating quality meat. As I mentioned, we don’t always eat hormone-free meats but I do devote two purchases a month of quality chicken, and I’m still experimenting with different plans for healthy beef and fish. Of course, partly it depends on how our finances are in a given week. I eat more hormone-free meat than the rest of the family because I have been trying to re-balance my hormones (see “Val’s Health Journey “section that is being added to my website).
In the following instructions, please forgive me for not using exact measurements for soup. Most soups are very forgiving – lots of different amounts work just as well as other amounts. I generally just let it vary based on what I’ve got in the house that I want to use up from my pantry or fridge.
2-3 lbs Chicken Thighs or Breasts (I prefer bone-in) or cook a whole chicken if you prefer.
3 Celery arms and preferably also the end of the stalk
1/2 Medium Onion
1 Red Sweet Pepper, optional
up to 8 Mushrooms, optional
1 package Riced Cauliflower (you could make your own by running one small head or half a medium head of cauliflower through a food processor).
1 Tbsp Himalayan Sea Salt
Chicken Better Than Bouillon (optional, and amount to taste) or any poultry seasoning or chicken bouillon
1. I put one package of chicken thighs bone-in into the Insta Pot, turned to pressure cook for 25 minutes, filling the water up to the maximum fill line, including 1 Tbsp of Himalayan Sea Salt and one stock-end of celery, (you know, the part you would normally throw out). If you don’t have an insta pot, you can just boil it for about an hour. If we’re having company, I prefer to use chicken breasts instead of thighs.
2. While the chicken is cooking, dice or slice 2 carrots, 3 celery arms (that’s what I call them), and 1/2 an onion. Those are the must haves. I also like to add red or yellow peppers and mushrooms.
3. Once it has thoroughly cooked through (the longer it cooks, the easier the meat will come off the bone and also the more nutrients from the bone has gotten into the broth), take a large slotted spoon and remove the celery stock-end and all the chicken pieces and parts. I like to put it all on