April 2, 2009
Earlier this week a tell-tale chill returned to Toronto and even though it was sunny and above zero most days, it was definitely on the cold side. Combine that with a spring cold, and I was feeling for the comfort of a bowl of chicken soup. Or should I say stoup?
Everyone has an opinion on Rachael Ray, love her or hate her, I have a couple of her books and I think they are great for easy, basic classics like this recipe. Yeah, the word “stoup” is ridiculous, even if it is literally a cross between a soup and a stew, and I will never get over the whole EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) thing, but there is no denying that this dish is delicious, hearty and stick-to-your-ribs.
In the book, the recipe is actually called Smoky Sweet-Potato Chicken Stoup, the chipotle chili in adobo sauce lending the “smoky” bit. However, “chipotle chili in adobo sauce” are a mystery to me. It’s a pantry staple Ms. Ray suggests having on hand at all times, yet I have never in my life seen a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce anywhere. And trust me, I’ve looked. I replaced the chili with about a teaspoon of chili powder, but it wasn’t quite “smoky”. I’d maybe try a good paprika next time instead.
If you follow the recipe to a T, the method instructs you to heat the oil, chop the carrots, throw them in the pan, chop the celery, throw them in the pan, etc. If you feel confident, go ahead and chop on-the-fly, but I much prefer preparing a mise en place before I even think about heating the oil.
My last note is about the sour cream. The recipe says garnishing your soup with sour cream is optional, but this was like the whole reason I even made the soup in the first place.
Sweet-Potato Chicken Stoup
From Rachael Ray’s Express Lane Meals
Makes 4 servings
2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 celery ribs
1 large onion, peeled and halved
1 large sweet potato
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chipotle chili in adobo, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
3/4 to 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
1. Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with the olive oil. While the oil heats, cut the carrots in half lengthwise, then slice into thin half moons. Add the carrots to the pot, stirring to coat the carrots in the oil. Chop and drop in the celery and onion, chopping them as small as you can, but don’t make yourself crazy.
2. Peel and then cut the sweet potato into quarters lengthwise, then thinly slice them into bite-size pieces. Add the sweet potatoes, garlic and chipotle (or chili powder/paprika) and stir to combine. Season the veggies with salt and pepper, the thyme and the bay leaf. Cook the veggies together for 1 minute. Add the wine to the vegetables and reduce for a minute. Add the stock to the pot, cover the pot, and raise the heat to high.
3. When the stoup boils, remove the cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the cut-up chicken and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through. Turn the heat off, discard the bay leaf, and stir in the scallions and cilantro. Serve each portion of stoup with a dollop of sour cream on top.