If winter just won’t let go where you live, why not warm up with this healthy soup.
By Nancy Lopez-McHugh
Bbbrrrrrr, it is so cold outside. This winter has been quite strange. Up until a couple of weeks ago our winter had been quite mild, just the way I like it. December came, then January ended and not one cm or mm of snow had fallen in Prague. February started and I was wondering if Prague would get any snow this winter. I was enjoying the mild winter and waiting for the first snow fall with mixed feelings. Then bam! Europe fell under a blanket of snow and freezing temperatures.
We’ve been watching the news of countries all around us having record low temperatures and snow falls. The videos of Rome, Barcelona, and Corsica under thick layers of snow are beautiful but also surreal. The videos of homeless, less fortunate, and news of so many deaths in Ukraine breaks my heart. But Prague, while the temperature is well below the average here, we’ve had no snow. One afternoon I saw a few snowflakes but nothing stuck or lasted. It was only last week that we finally woke up to a little bit of snow. Crazy, what is going on with this weather?
While I may not understand the weather, one thing I do understand is the best way of keeping my belly warm and full. Crazy weather like this means soup or stew should be on the stove. Let me tell you this soup is exactly what you need to stay warm until the spring comes. (Hopefully that will be soon.) The main flavor in the soup comes from smoked chicken quarters. Have you ever tasted smoked chicken? It is quite good. Of course it taste like smoked meat but leaner and softer then smoked pork. When it comes to soups or stews dark meat is the only way to go. A boring plain chicken breast will not give enough flavor to the broth. The meat out of the package was tender and pink, and yes it was cooked through. Once the meat simmered for a while it turned a darker pink color, similar to pork.
Another major part of this stew are the vegetables and Adzuki beans. First let’s talk about the beans. Adzuki beans are ity-bity red beans that come from East Asia and the Himalayas. They are also know as Azuki or aduki, all names that come from Japanese. They are commonly sweetened with sugar and used in Asian cuisine. Think red bean ice cream, diafuki, moon cakes, etc. I love Adzuki beans because they cook fast. Plus their slightly red bean taste is a great addition to savory dishes. The vegetables in this soup are standard winter root vegetables. For a little more color contrast I added Savoy cabbage, which could also be replaced with Kale. Lastly for a little extra flavor I added a tad of fresh rosemary, which complimented the rest of the ingredients well.
And here is how you make this hearty warming soup.
- 2 small potatoes, peeled & roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 stalk celery, including leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled & roughly chopped
- 6 small leaves of Savoy Cabbage or Kale, finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup Adzuki beans
- 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 smoked chicken quarters, skin removed and meat off the bone
- 6 cup low sodium vegetable broth, no MSG
- 2 small bay leaves
- ½ sprig of fresh rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Once warm add onions and cook until soft, next add the celery and carrots cooking for 3 minutes. Next add the potatoes and minced garlic, cook for 3 minutes stirring often. Next add the savoy cabbage or kale, beans, chicken meat, bay leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper and vegetable broth to the pan. Give it a good stir, turn heat to medium low, cover and simmer for about on hour. Checking on the soup now and then, and giving it a stir. After one hour remove lid, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Simmer another half hour, allow to cool before serving.
I served our soup with a rustic style homemade bread. The soup was delicious, very filling, warm and exactly what we need for this weather. The smoked chicken added a slight smokiness to the soup but without overpowering the rest of the ingredients. The root vegetables and beans complimented the smoked chicken perfectly. This soup may have come together as a way of using up leftover ingredients but it is definitely a soup I will be making again very soon.
Nancy Lopez-McHugh is a food blogger, photographer and published author. Most recently she has published "Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide To Better Photos".