Chicken Florentine Soup

The hubs and I happened to be out to lunch a while back. Kid-less. Don’t sound so shocked! We were both over-due for an hour where we could feel and eat like adults, without wiping other peoples’ faces, and listening to lip-smacking in between chews. I happened to be idly perusing the menu, listening to some story the hubs was telling, when my eyes caught on something. Chicken Florentine…in a soup? Say whaaaat?? I mean I love Chicken Florentine. We make it all the time with pasta. Well, not all the time, that would be like the calorie equivalent of an atomic bomb, but you get my drift. And, soup itself, in any form, is a staple for my soul. I had to have it. Had to. It was a beautiful thing. It was glorious. And I just knew I had to find a way to make my own version at home because there were bound to be some intense cravings, and possible withdraws. And those don’t make for a fun Mom, and you know, when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

This here is my precious, but I don’t wanna do the whole Smeagol devolving into Gollum thing so, in the interest of self preservation, I decided I had to share it with you asap.

Chicken Florentine Soup

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Florentine Soup

about 1 lb, or 2 medium, boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup half and half
3 cups fresh baby spinach

Feel free to round out this romantically,  rustic one-dish meal with warm crusty bread. You’ll definitely use it to soak up the every last drop of it’s richly flavored broth.

Directions

1. Cut chicken breasts into bite size pieces and season with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in a 2-3 qt saucepan. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the same pan and add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 min or until onions are translucent. Add garlic, thyme & cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Add flour to the vegetables, stirring to coat them all, and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chicken stock slowly to mixture. Cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and soup thickens.
4. Add the Half & Half & cook and stir until thickened. Add Chicken and Spinach, cooking for another 5-10 min. Check the seasonings and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne to taste.
5. Serve with a slice of that warm, crusty bread and enjoy!

Spinach Parmesan Orzo

Sometimes the simplest things taste the best. Just like I sometimes need a break from the rigmarole of everyday life, sometimes my taste buds need a break from complex flavor combinations. This orzo is just the thing for times like that. With a simple, yet creamy, low-fat sauce coating the tiny rice-shaped pasta and wilted spinach, it makes a great side dish, especially with chicken or fish, or even a light main meal.  This is the happy place where health & comfort (food) meet.

Spinach Parmesan Orzo

4 Sons 'R' Us: Spinach Parmesan Orzo

recipe adapted from Life Tastes Good

4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3-4 cups of fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat and add 1 cup orzo. Stir until the orzo is lightly browned/toasted. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the orzo is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
2. While the orzo is simmering it is a good time to prepare the spinach. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add 10 ounces of baby spinach and a pinch of salt. Saute until wilted. Set aside until orzo is done.
3. When orzo is done add the spinach and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and mix well. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. The Parmesan will add some saltiness to the dish, so be sure to give it a taste to ensure you don’t add too much salt!