A few years ago, two? Three? Lucy was a junior in high school and she and I embarked on the college tour weekend. We drove to North Carolina, stayed with Candice, looked at Wake Forest and UNC, and then drove to Virginia to visit William and Mary. It was a lot of driving, even more laughter, and crazy places to eat. I took the opportunity to introduce Lucy to where her Dad and I used to hang out in Chapel Hill, and we tried new places and different foods just because, why not? We were gone a total of about four days and had a long drive home from Greensboro, NC where we’d stopped off to spend the night with family.
After being gone and eating out almost every meal (I think Candice cooked for us, and my Aunt in VA), we just wanted normal, “clean” food. Clean food is my made-up euphemism for any kind of food that isn’t fried and isn’t in any way greasy. There aren’t many, or at least then there weren’t many places along I-85 that fell into that category.
We did, however find a Panera Bread. Hand made sandwiches, fresh fruit, organic milk. It was just the ticket.
I will never know if it was the actual food (it was just Panera after all, good of course, but not five star), or the company, or just that my food was exactly what I wanted exactly when I wanted it, but I have forever remembered that meal of simple soup and an apple because at that moment, it filled my soul.
We just returned from a week long trip to the southern coast of Georgia and (for us at least), a debauchery of eating out. Too much beer on the beach before 11am, too many glasses of wine because, hey, it was happy hour at the King and Prince sitting out by the water eating gourmet flat bread with candied pecans and bacon (CANDIED PECANS and BACON!), ice cream and malts at Leopold’s in Savannah, fried seafood, fried pickles (with ranch dip, of course), grits with gooey, sharp cheese, and this ridiculous concoction from Saint Simon’s Sweets called “White Trash” no less (broken pretzels clumped together with white chocolate). Today is Sunday and by all accounts, a day to get my life back together. School starts back, we have swimming (always swimming), I have sewing projects to start for clients, and oh right, the budget. I guess I need to revisit that.
We need to flutter back down to earth and reality.
But I’m hungry, and its raining. So what are we having for lunch? My favorite soup from that day a few years ago that centered me, of course! My own, easy version of Cream of Chicken with Wild Rice. It has become a huge favorite here, and one I rely on when we need something warm, belly filling, healthy and satisfying. We eat soup and sandwich every Thursday, so I make a lot of soups, but this one is at least three kids’ favorite.
I consider that a huge win.
Please note that my recipe (as is most of my cooking) is approximate. I make huge quantities because I have so many people, please adjust as you wish.
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 box Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice (the kind with the flavor packet)
leftover, cooked chicken (no skin)
2 boxes of chicken stock (or water and Knorr cubes), maybe more, just depends
3 T. (or so) of heavy cream
small glug (1/8 cup?) of white wine
Olive oil in pot, add veg and cook for about 8 minutes or so until they are soft. Add the rice and the seasoning packet, cook for another minute until all is coated. Add chicken broth (or water and bouillon), stir, cover, and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender. Stir in wine, heavy cream and shredded or chopped chicken, and cook a tad longer until thick. Stir in parsley at the last minute for fresh color.
(Full Disclosure: When I made this and took that picture above, I didn’t have the “Wild Rice,” I just had regular “Chicken and Rice” flavor, so I used that. The Wild Rice gives it more fiber and color.)