It’s only the first week of the New Year and I’m already feeling frenzied as I try to fit everything in. There’s no need to define “everything” since you have your own “everything” going on. I’m just jam packed this week, overwhelmed and spinning in circles. To top things off, one of my kids was home sick for two days — poor him and poor me! So I needed my cooking date with Jackie today as much as I need therapy. Sometimes they are one and the same.
I must be dreaming, hoping or just plain delusional but I decided to teach my students how to work with rice paper and make Vietnamese summer rolls. You got it. “Summer” rolls. But the reality is we’re in the dead of winter here in New Jersey with temperatures in the single digits. So instead of anything cold, Jackie and I made two kinds of belly warming soups — a southwestern chicken and quinoa soup and an Indian spiced lentil soup.
Back to our soup making date! I walked into Jackie’s kitchen, my bag, chockfull of soup making and taking ingredients a reflection of my own overflowing life. I think Jackie would attest to my somewhat manic personality as I was a non-stop chatterbox and whirlwind in the kitchen. But as we began to combine our ingredients, I calmed down a bit. The dicing and chopping amidst charming conversation allowed a few breaths now and again. And as we sautéed, the aromas mingled with our moods, transforming
Jackie’s kitchen into a peaceful and calm sanctuary. We then got to sit down, enjoy a lovely lunch and even share a cup of tea as our soups simmered.
I walked out of Jackie’s kitchen with several containers of soup, cool, calm and collected and ready to teach my students how to make summer rolls on the most frigid day of the year. I only hope our cooking date worked the same magic on my dear friend Jackie.
Here’s our Southwestern Chicken Quinoa and Veggie Soup
Makes 3 plus quarts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breast, diced
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced finely
2 pieces of celery, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
¼ cup diced carrots
½ cup corn kernels
½ cup black beans
1 cup petit diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder (chipotle if you can find it!)
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro
6 cups of chicken stock
1 cup any color cooked quinoa
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil for a minute over medium heat olive oil and cook the chicken for about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Season with cumin and chili powder and then add the garlic and onions. Sauté for another five minutes. Add the peppers, celery, zucchini and carrots. Continue to sauté for about ten minutes more. Add the corn.
Cover the vegetables with stock and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and cook on a medium heat. Add the black beans, quinoa and tomatoes and let simmer for about ten minutes more. At the very end, throw in a handful of cilantro and serve each bowl with shredded cheese, avocado, chopped scallions, a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.