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Pat's Scrumptious Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This wonderfully satisfying soup, an adaptation of my friend Pat's family recipe from Northern Mexico, combines the flavors of chicken, corn, potatoes and other favorite, colorful vegetables. It's a perfect way to use vegetables that you have frozen from last summer's garden, or take advantage of economical flash-frozen veggies from the supermarket. I often make a very big pot and then freeze some in individual servings to reheat happily for lunch on work days. Truly a "meal in a bowl".

Don't be afraid of using all the garlic and bay leaves this recipe calls for. It seems like a lot, but these seasonings plus the corn and potatoes are what make the soup savory and delicious.

One large deep soup pot
2 large onions cut in large chunks
10 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into quarters
8 bay leaves
4 to 5 large carrots, peeled, cut in 1-inch slices
5 medium to large boiling potatoes, chopped in 1-inch cubes.
1 nice, plump, 3 1/2- to 5-pound chicken, washed, with liver and excess fat removed
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 Jalapeño chile, cut in quarters or one dried medium hot chile of your choice
1 sixteen- to twenty-ounce bag of frozen corn kernels
1 sixteen-ounce bag of frozen sliced green beans
1 sixteen-ounce bag of frozen garden peas
1 cup of chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Put the onions, garlic, bay leaf, carrots, potatoes, whole chicken, salt and pepper and chile into a large deep soup pot in the order given. Add enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring the pot to a boil, then return to a simmer and continue to cook until the chicken is completely done and the drumstick pulls away easily. This usually takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on your stove.

Remove the pot from the stove, and take the chicken out of the soup. Cool slightly, then take off the skin and meat. Chop all the meat into bite-size pieces. Skim off excess fat from soup. Add the chicken back to the soup. Bring back to a boil then add the frozen corn, green beans and peas. Stir well and return pot to a boil. Lower heat and cook gently for another 10 minutes. Add chopped parsley or cilantro. Sample the soup as it may need more salt to match your taste.

Serve hot making sure each diner gets plenty of the veggies and chicken along with the broth. The soup tastes even better the next day; freeze the soup in individual portions to warm up for lunch, especially on long days when you need a little flavorful and rewarding but virtuous comfort food.

Makes 8-10 servings or more depending on the size of your appetite.

Find more great garden-inspired recipes in
 Renee's Cookbooks:

Recipes from a Kitchen Garden
More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden

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