Submitted by Prof. Cara Cookson
The end of the semester is a great time for comfort food. This soup has all the flavors of chicken pot pie without the extra work of making a crust. It comes together in about 30 minutes, which is a nice amount of time for a study break in the kitchen with a mug of tea. Our brains are better at absorbing information when our bellies are full, and we’re rested and relaxed. I’ve noted some possible substitutions in the ingredients list so that you can make this recipe vegan or vegetarian, too.
Probably 4-6. It’s enough for a family and friends to share or for one person to enjoy delicious soup throughout the week.
2 chicken breasts, baked or par-boiled, shredded or cubed*
4 carrots, diced
4 ribs of celery, diced
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 bulbs of garlic, minced
3 mushrooms diced (optional)
3 cups cauliflower (about 1/2 a head), cut into florets
2 cups peas or green beans (fresh or frozen, not canned)
1 32 oz. carton of chicken or vegetable broth**
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil (or cooking oil of choice)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk***
Salt and pepper to taste
* Substitute white beans or your favorite plant-based sausage, added before you serve. Chicken-like alternatives might also work. I would just make sure not to let them sit in the soup for long periods of time.
** I like to keep extra broth on hand just in case I want a little more, or you can always add water, too.
*** If you’re good with dairy, I’d use a splash of whole milk and a tablespoon or two of butter.
First, start baking the chicken breasts on a sheet pan with a little olive oil at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes. You can also par-boil them by adding them to a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Either way, cook the chicken all the way through while you attend to the rest of the recipe. If you opted for no meat, chop your plant-based alternative and set it aside.
Next, steam the cauliflower by adding just enough broth to cover the florets in a medium saucepan and bringing the temp up to medium/hot. You want the florets to simmer and cook through.
Meanwhile, chop and dice your other vegetables— carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Save the peas or green beans for later. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, sauté all the vegetables in olive oil until they are soft and the aromatics are translucent. You can cover the pot to help them steam.
When the cauliflower is very tender (about 10-15 minutes), add the almond milk or dairy. Puree the mixture until smooth and creamy. (I use a stick blender, but any blender or food processor could do.) You could also try to mash and stir with a fork if you don’t have fancy equipment.
Now it’s time to pull it all together. Chop the chicken and add it to the tender vegetables, followed by the cauliflower mixture. Stir together. Now, gradually add broth until you reach your desired consistency:
Less broth = more like stew or pot pie
More broth = more like chicken noodle soup
Add just a little more broth and the peas or green beans, thyme, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low until all the veggies are cooked through.