Life can change in the blink of an eye. It happened last week to a dear friend who is lucky to be alive after a serious bike-meets-car accident. The car door opened too late for the cyclist to stop. We may have all experienced something similar in a close call, as either the car driver or the cyclist. Here is a very important link on awareness and prevention when exiting the auto, and in turn, perhaps saving a life. www.dutchreach.org
While this is deeply personal, the bigger message here is to be as healthy as possible daily, so if or when the body is compromised, you have the ammunition to fend off ailments and recover from injuries more quickly.
One of the best remedies this time of year is bone broth. I’ve written about its health benefits here, along with a recipe to make at home. Since bone broth is a source of gelatin (and grass-fed is my preference,) it helps protect and lubricate joints and can help fight osteoarthritis. Bone broth is loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals, and supports a healthy immune system, which is vital this time of year.
And what better way to enjoy a meal of nutritious goodness than with a warm bowl of soup!
One Pot Chicken and Bacon Orzo Soup
5 slices bacon, Contimo Provisions (at Copia) has the best:)
2 cups yellow onion, diced (approximately 1 large onion)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup organic celery, diced (approximately 3 ribs)
1 cup organic carrots, diced
1 pound boneless skinless organic chicken breast
6 cups organic chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup orzo
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper or to taste
Chopped fresh parsley to taste
In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom saucepan, render the fat from the bacon over low heat. Once there’s a nice layer of fat on the bottom of the pan, turn the heat up slightly and cook the bacon until crisp. Place the bacon on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2-3 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.
Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots to the pan with a pinch of salt. Cook the vegetables on medium heat for several minutes, stirring periodically, until they have caramelized a bit (Note: the more you caramelize them, the more flavorful the finished soup will be).
Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables and cover with the chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board. Once it has cooled slightly, use 2 forks to shred the meat. Set aside.
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Bring the soup back to a boil and add the orzo. Cook for 8 minutes, uncovered, until the orzo is al dente.
Add the chicken back to the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Dice the reserved bacon. Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh parsley and diced bacon before serving. (Note: the bacon can be reheated either in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave at 10 second intervals)Hearty Lentil Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium celery stalk, small dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and small dice
1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart bone broth (homemade or grass-fed store bought)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 1/4 cups lentils (any color except red), rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 ounces spinach leaves (about 1/2 a bunch)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with several generous pinches of salt and pepper.
Add the broth, tomatoes with their juices, lentils, bay leaf, and thyme and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a simmer, about 15 minutes. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering, covered, until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes more.
Taste and season with more salt or pepper as needed, then stir in the vinegar. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. If you prefer a creamier texture, purée half of the soup in a blender and add it back to the pot.