Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chicken, Escarole and Rice Soup

What is escarole, you ask?  I didn't know, other than it was a leafy, lettuce-y type of vegetable.  The problem was, I didn't know which. Neither did most of the employees at the grocery store. In the produce department, the signs for escarole, endive, bok choy, radicchio, arugula, and bibb and boston lettuces were all grouped together over the display.  It wasn't clear which was which.  I was pretty confident on a few of them, but some left me guessing.  I asked employee after employee to help me with the escarole, and they were all stumped.  Finally the produce manager came and helped me.  It was the least fresh-looking of the bunch, so he gave it to me for $1 instead of the upper $2.xx something that it was advertised for.  Since it was going chopped up into the soup that night I was okay with it's less that perky status, after I removed the outer limpy leaves.

It turns out that I like escarole and it is delicious in this soup.  However, if you don't get slightly limpy escarole from the produce manager, it is more expensive then I like to pay for my greens.  I might suggest, if the escarole is not on sale, trying spinach in the recipe instead.  Slightly different flavor of course, but I find that spinach holds up marvelously in soup and a big Costco sized clamshell of the stuff goes a long way.   I will probably do the spinach until the farmer's market is open and I can get yummy fresh escarole in the summer.

Chicken, Escarole, and Rice Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 head escarole, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced, approx. 10 cups (can use spinach)
3 14-oz. cans chicken broth
½ c. long-grain rice
¾ lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into small cubes
1 16-oz. can italian diced tomatoes  
black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

1.  In a large pot heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté’ until just beginning to color, about 3 minutes. 
2.  Add escarole (or spinach) and 1 can of broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  
3.  Add the remaining 2 cans of broth and return to a simmer.  
4.  Add rice and simmer for 15 minutes. 
5.  Add chicken and tomatoes, return to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes more or until the rice is tender and the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Season with pepper to taste. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of each bowl of soup.

source:  Carrie J.

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