Soup for the Soul ... and the Freezer!

One of my Pinterest boards is named “Soup for the Soul”, and I named it that because I enjoy soups that have substance to them!  No watery clear broth for me!  I like noodles and vegetables and dumplings in my soups!  Add cream to it, and I like it even more!
Work was extra hectic this past week!  A “consultant” had been sent in to help us with something.  Needless to say, I found her to be more of an “insultant” … offering little help, and plenty of accusations.  By the time Saturday rolled around, I needed the day off in the biggest way!

Lots of yard work was waiting for me, but my energy level didn’t match that!  In order to accomplish something significant, I decided to make soup for the freezer.  I worked with squash all last weekend and I still had some to use.  The ingredients for Creamy Italian Zucchini Soup went in the Instant Pot!  A roasted chicken carcass from the freezer went in a crockpot.  After 3 hours of making rich broth, I transformed that broth into Brown Rice and Mushroom Chicken Soup!  Chopping, sautéing and finishing the soups was the perfect amount of relaxation!

I roasted a whole chicken this past week and threw the carcass in the freezer.  The seasoning for the bird was a dried blend of manchego cheese and mushrooms.  I had a nice piece of the skin with all the seasonings smeared on it, so I added it to the pot.  The original seasoning for the chicken was the foundation for the soup.  The rest of the ingredients can be adjusted to whatever you have on hand and what you like!  Soups for the Soul are eclectic creations!

Brown Rice and Mushroom Chicken Soup!

1 stalk of celery, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
Chicken removed from the stewed carcass
1 cup of brown rice, uncooked
1 Tablespoon of mushroom bouillon base
Several grinds of peppercorns
A dash of salt

If you don’t have a chicken carcass to simmer in the crockpot, use 4 cups of packaged vegetable or chicken broth.  Cook the chicken carcass in 4 cups of water for 3 hours.  Remove the chicken, bones and skin and remove the meat from the bones, so you can add it back to the soup pot.  When the broth is ready, sauté the celery and onions in a drizzle of olive oil and add them to the broth. Add the mushrooms, chicken meat and brown rice to the crockpot and let the soup cook on high temperature until the rice is tender.  This will probably take 3 hours.  Finish the soup by adding the mushroom bouillon base, salt and pepper … in the last hour of cooking. 
You can serve this soup immediately or freeze it.  When you are ready to serve it, add a little cream to it and top each serving with goat cheese crumbles and savory croutons.
Caesar salad is perfect to serve with this soup and for a heavier meal, make grilled cheese sandwiches using a couple varieties of cheese for extra flavor.  I like to sprinkle my grilled cheese with a little garlic or onion powder.

Now, let’s talk zucchini!  A week ago, one of my favorite farmer’s market vendors gave me a bushel plus … of crooked neck yellow squash and zucchini squash.  I froze most of it, turned some of the yellow squash into pie filling (like pumpkin), but still had plenty left in the fridge a week later!  Zucchini will take on the flavor of whatever you add to it.  That is why it is so good in Zucchini Bread!  You can even make an apple pie with it!  That’s right.  Use plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg, and it will taste just like apple pie filling!
Zucchini is filled with nutrients … lots of things we need to stay healthy. It is so nutrient rich that just a cup of soup gives us a big boost!
Save the pie for later and make a batch of Cream of Zucchini Soup … Italian style.  I love having a pot of soup simmering all day … especially on a cold winter day.  For the purpose of putting soups away in the freezer, the Instant Pot is a godsend!  It would be easy to make a few soups on a Saturday … because it only takes about an hour for each batch!

Creamy Italian Zucchini Soup

1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 medium to large zucchini, chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon Paul Prudhomme Vegetable seasoning

Set the IP on sauté and add a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the onion, carrot and squash and stir quickly to coat the veges in oil.  Let them sauté for just a couple minutes, long enough to add a little ‘scar’ to them!  Add 2 – 3 cups of water to the pot and cook on the ‘soup’ setting for 30 minutes.  Let the steam release naturally.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.  Add 1 cup of whole milk, the dust and julienned or chopped basil leaves.  Stir in the herbs and seasoning and let the soup simmer a few more minutes.

This soup freezes nicely. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight when you are ready to serve it.  Add a dollop of sour cream and additional chopped basil to each serving.  Garlic cheesy bread is perfect to serve with this!  For a heavier meal, a panini made with ham, salami and provolone cheese would be an excellent addition!

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