Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl

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We LOVE stir fry in this house but wanted to change it up a little last time so we did Udon noodles and changed up the sauce a bit. They were a huge hit and we even gave the kids chop sticks to give them a chance to try them out. Dishes like these are great for loading up everyone’s plates / bowls with healthy veggies! Once all the prep work is done this cooks up incredibly fast! The rest of the meal is ready in the time it takes to boil the noodles! This crowd favorite will be in our regular rotation!

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Now for the sauce. This can be made hours… even a day ahead if you wanted / needed to. It is loosely adapted from Pioneer Woman’s Simple Sesame Noodles. Start with 1/4 cup soy sauce. I recommend the low sodium version. Add to that 2 Tbs honey.

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Add to that a couple Tbs of rice vinegar.

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3 Tbs sesame oil

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1/4 cup olive oil

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1/4 cup water. You could also add hot chili oil or red pepper flakes here for some bite. With young kids in the house we wait to do this until it is plated up. Whisk to combine.

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Cut 2 chicken breasts up into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl. Take a little less than 1/4 of your sauce liquid and pour it over your chicken to marinate for a bit while you prep veggies.

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Ok, now for the prep. Peel and chop up a few carrots and 1 onion. Put them together in a bowl. Slice up a few stalks of celery and trim some broccoli florets and put them together in a bowl. Mince a few cloves of garlic. The separation is purposeful here. The carrots and onion need the longest cook time. Garlic is next and needs the “cushion” of the carrots and onion to avoid burning on the bottom of the hot pan. The celery and broccoli require the least cook time and are best served with a good crunchy texture. Capiche? Great. Have all of this prep ready ahead of time because once the cooking starts this will go very quickly.

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Start a large pot of water to boil for your noodles. Generously season the water with salt! I use Udon noodles. You can find them in the Asian section of your grocery store. They are very similar to spaghetti noodles and you could sure use spaghetti if that what you have on hand. If you have the opportunity to try the Udon noodles I recommend you do. Branch out a bit. Live dangerously…

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Heat a Tbs of olive oil in a skillet on med high heat. When it is hot drop in your chicken pieces. Toss them around the pan until they cooked through and browned. Remove from pan to a clean plate and cover with foil.

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Drop carrots and onions into the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. Drop garlic in and cook for 2 mins.

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Add in celery and broccoli. Stir and continue to cook for a few minutes until they become slightly tender.

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Add the chicken and all juices back into the pan and combine.

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By now your noodles should be al dente. Drain them and return them to the warm pot.

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Add the contents of your saute pan to the noodle pot.

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Give your sauce a quick whisk and pour it over.

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Stir to combine and you are set to go!

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Serve in bowls with chop sticks… or forks if you decide not to live dangerously. This is where you could toss in some red pepper flakes if you wanted some bite separately from the rest. This is even great the next day. Add a small amount of water to a small frying pan, dump in leftovers and cover with a lid for a few minutes on medium heat. I love leftovers!!

Asian Chicken Noodle Bowls
2 Boneless Chicken Breasts cut to bite sized pieces
Sauce:
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs honey
2 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
(optional hot chili oil or red pepper flakes)

3-4 large carrots peeled and chopped
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1-1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 package Udon noodles (10-12oz) or spaghetti noodles

Prep chicken. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl or glass jar. Whisk to combine. Take scant 1/4 cup of sauce liquid and pour over chicken and let marinate while you prep veggies. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in saute pan over med high heat. Start water boiling for noodles (season generously with salt). When oil is hot add in chicken pieces and cook until browned and cooked through. Transfer to clean plate and cover with foil. Add carrots and onions to pan. Cook until onions are translucent. Add in garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add in celery and broccoli and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes. Add chicken pieces and juices from plate into pan. About now the noodles should be done. Drain and return to pot. Add contents of saute pan. Whisk sauce and pour over all ingredients. Stir to combine. Serve!

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Chopped Brussel Sprout & Kale Salad

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This is the perfect salad to add to your menu as you start the new year. It’s healthful and delicious and covers all areas of the palette. The crunch of the greens and bacon, the pop of the pomegranate arils, the nuttiness of the… well the nuts and the dressing is surprisingly refreshing. That being said I wish I could take credit for coming up with it but I did not. It was a Pinterest find! Shocking I know!!

So to give credit where credit is due… Click HERE to go over to the Pinch of Yum blog for her rendition. I did make a few changes. I added Kale, switched the obliterated almonds for chopped pecans, and didn’t have a shallot on hand for the dressing so finely minced some onion. It was still delicious!! She presents it as a side but we had it as a main course. Half of this serves 2 adults well for lunch. Enjoy!

Brussel Sprout salad

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Smothered Pork Chops

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There are so many delicious ways to serve up pork chops but this by far is the favorite at our house. It’s a comfort food but is also packed with veggies and serving it over brown rice add even more goodness. Besides the rice, this is a one pan meal and is easy to execute. So here’s how you will make yours.

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Grab some pork chops. I prefer bone in. Bone in meat always adds more flavor to a dish.  Mine are 1 inch thick. They aren’t Iowa chops so if you have thicker chops you will want to change up cooking times a bit later in the recipe. Generously season with salt and pepper on both sides. Let the chops sit out about 15 minutes before cooking to come close to room temp. Meat cooks most evenly when it starts close to room temp.

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Other prep you will need to get done before you start rolling is to get your rice cooking situation in order and thinly slice up an onion. Also cut up 2-3 large peeled carrots or a few handfuls of baby carrots, whatever you have on hand is great.

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You will need 2 1/2 cups chicken stock for this recipe so if you have stock in the can or box thing all ready to go these next steps can be skipped. If you use the stock concentrate, like I do, here is my tip for most efficiently mixing it with water for use. Open up your jar of concentrate and grab a small whisk. Dig your whisk into the concentrate so that the amount you need is globbed on the end of the whisk. No, you cannot know the exact amount you have on there but if you’ve used this concentrate enough times you get used to how it looks. Plus, its stock… a little more / less is going to be just fine. I know this is about what I need for 2 1/2 cups stock.

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Grab your large liquid measuring cup and drop your loaded whisk down into it.

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Take this to the sink and let your tap water get as hot as it can. Fill the measuring cup up only to about 1/3 cup.

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Now whisk like crazy to get all that concentrate off your whisk and diluted into the water. Stir until you can tell most of it has dissolved.

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Now you can fill that measuring cup up just as full as you need to and lightly stir to combine. I’m too lazy to dig out my 4 cup measuring cup so I just fill this one to max capacity. That’s gotta be close to 2 1/2, right?

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Ok, now mince up 3 cloves of garlic.

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Let’s get this show on the road. Drop about a tablespoon of olive oil into your skillet and heat to medium high.

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Once it is good and hot gently place your chops into the pan. The purpose of this is to sear them and get good color on them. You are not cooking them through yet so just a couple of minutes on this first side is great.

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Peek under one and when you see color like this you are free to flip them over for a couple of minutes on the other side. Then take them out and place them on a plate. Note: you can reuse the plate you used when they were raw. They are not done cooking and will go back into the pan in a bit, then that plate goes to the sink.

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Oh this site makes me salivate… drop a couple of tablespoons of butter into that hot pan.

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Immediately dump in your carrots and onions. Stir around for about 3-5 minutes.

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Add in your chopped garlic and cook for about 1 minute.

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Next comes 1/2 Tbs dried thyme.

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Also, about 3 Tbs flour.

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Stir that around and let it cook for a minute to cook off that raw flour taste.

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Pour in 2 1/2 cups chicken stock. Use wooden spoon to scrap up all those delicious bits of flavor on the bottom of the pan.

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Return the pork chops to the pan. Reduce heat to low / simmer. Now… this next step is completely dependent on the size of your pork chops. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes on each side here and they were done. If you have thicker chops it will take a bit longer. Up to 10 mins on each side. To check for doneness use a fork or the edge of your tongs and poke the pork chop in the middle. If it is super soft it is not done. If it has a little give but pushes back they are done. If you can’t even press in they are very done and get those babies out!

Move them to a clean plate and tent with foil. They will continue to cook while sitting on the plate so I’d error to the side of less done than done in the pan.

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Back to the sauce… drop in 1 cup of frozen peas and turn the heat up to med high.

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Drizzle in 1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk.

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Continue to cook until sauce thickens and peas are warmed through. When the peas are a bright vibrant green they are done. Don’t continue to cook them into pale sad peas!

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Scoop a spoonful of brown rice onto your plate, top with chop, and smother in sauce and veggies. Grab and fork and knife and be prepared to devour!

Smothered Pork Chops

4 bone in pork chops (mine were 1 inch)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
1 yellow onion sliced into thin strips
2-3 carrots chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Tbs dried thyme
3 Tbs flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 heavy cream / whole milk

Prep veggies and season pork chops on both sides. Heat oil in pan on med-high heat. Sear chops 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and add butter. Saute onions and carrots 3-5 minutes until onions start to become translucent. Add in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with flour and cook additional minute. Add thyme and chicken stock. Stir with wooden spoon to work up bits off bottom of pan. Return chops to pan and cook 5-10 minutes on each side until done. Remove chops from pan on to clean plate and tent with foil. Add frozen peas and cream / milk to pan. Cook until sauce thickens and peas are vibrant and warmed through. Serve over brown rice.

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Taco Night!

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Taco night is a guaranteed “everyone will eat” night at our house. This post is more about sharing ideas for the 1/4 beef we have in our freezer than a revolutionary way to make ground beef tacos. But… if you pair plain old beef tacos with my Mexican Risotto and Homemade Salsa you have a meal worth blogging about. If you haven’t made Mexican Risotto you owe it to your family to try. Heck, make a double batch! It makes great leftovers!

But for those who would love a walk through for my ground beef tacos… here ya go!

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This may sound weird but our grass fed beef even looks good raw. It is so vibrant and fresh. Anyway, throw ground beef in your skillet with generous salt and pepper, brown it up and drain off grease.

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Throw beef back in the skillet and add a bit of water and your favorite taco seasoning. This is probably where you were expecting a long list of hand picked ingredients that I use in my own homemade taco mix blend. Sorry to disappoint! I buy organic taco seasoning in bulk and store it in an old pickle jar! There are some conveniences that should just be taken advantage of!

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Stir until thickened and you’re set!

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We like to pile ours high with Tillamook cheese, baby spinach, black olives and plenty of Homemade salsa. Who doesn’t love taco night?!?!

Link to Mexican Risotto

Link to Homemade Salsa

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The Tale of Two Tails

Ladies and Gentleman… our freezer. We are blessed to know families in our area that raise livestock in healthy and humane ways. Over the last week we have acquired 1/4 beef and 1/2 hog. Yes, we will be checking our freezer door everyday to be sure it is securely shut!

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As we become more aware of what we are eating we become more aware of where it comes from. Buying meat like this is a big commitment and can be intimidating. I’d like to help take some of the unknown out of it for you and encourage you to find locally sourced meat for your family.

Did you know: one hamburger can contain meat from up to 100 different cows, and that a infected cow (be it with E. coli, or whatever) can infect up to 16 tons of beef? (from Gail Eisnitz’s Slaughterhouse) Ewwww….

I am going to do a series of blog posts showing the different cuts of meat that are available when you buy beef / pork this way and what to do with them. I will tag each beef post with “grass feed beef” or “berkshire pork” so you will be able to search all the posts at once.

Our beef was processed at the new Story City Locker in Story City, IA. We are THRILLED with the results and highly recommend that you check them out for all your hoofed meat processing. They will be doing poultry occasionally so contact them for more details. Check out their sweet website here! Tell Ty and Bobbi that the Kitchen Tutor sent you!

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/Bacon

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Goat’s Eyes… that’s what my Dad would call the brussel sprouts he would try to get us to eat out of a can. They were mushy and weird and I strongly disliked them. I was pretty sure they weren’t really eyeballs but he also served us real cow tongue now and again so the possibility was out there! Bottom line I never thought I would willingly eat brussel sprouts and I would have fallen off my chair if you told me I’d look forward to eating them. Well… I do. I love them now! Once I discovered fresh brussel sprouts as an adult I was hooked. Like many unpopular vegetables sometimes its all in how they are prepared. Even if they are not your favorite I hope you give this method a try. You may have a new favorite side… or at least start to tolerate them🙂 The bacon helps!

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Brussel sprouts do require a little prep time. Even if the bag says they are washed and ready to eat I still run them through a process of prep. First I trim off the ends.

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Next I go through and peel off any wilted, spotted, or discolored outer leaves. Some may have a couple bad layers, some may not have any that need to be removed. Discard bad leaves.

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Next I thinly slice each sprout. I used to quarter them but I’ve found this technique results in more even and faster cooking.

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If you are doing prep ahead of time you can throw them in a bowl until about 20 minutes before meal time.

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Cook up some crispy bacon. If you have extra already made up from another recipe just chop it up. If you are starting with uncooked I suggest frying it up in a pan on the stovetop and reserving the oil to use later in the cooking process.

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When you are ready to get cooking crank your oven to 425 degrees and grab a sheet pan. If you are using a stone use it as is. If you are using a metal pan line with parchment paper.

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Next drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (or reserved bacon fat from frying bacon. don’t miss this amazing flavor opportunity!), 1/4 tsp paprika, and fresh cracked pepper. Season generously with salt. Toss together on pan. Crushed red pepper flakes would also be a great addition here!

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Spread out on pan as best as you can. Check here to make sure you used enough oil. If you see any “dry” spots give them a little drizzle.

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Roast for 10 minutes, remove from oven and stir around. Return to oven for another 5-10 minutes.

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Free tip: Before attempting to transfer to your serving bowl use a spoon / spatula to push all the sprouts to the corner of the pan so when you tilt the pan to dump into the bowl it will be easy and clean.

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Once they are in a bowl toss in the bacon bits. Enjoy!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
3-4 cups brussel sprouts (depending on size and condition) they will cook down
4 +/- Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika
Fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste
4-6 slices of bacon (one for sampling)

Prep brussel sprouts by trimming of ends and peeling off any bad leaves. Thinly slice. Chop bacon into small pieces and pan fry until crispy. Keep bacon grease (optional). Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Dump sprouts onto baking sheet. Drizzle with oil (or reserved bacon fat). Sprinkle with paprika, pepper, and salt. Toss to coat. Spread out to even layer on pan. Roast for 10 minutes, remove from oven and stir, return to oven for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl and toss with bacon pieces. Serve!

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Chicken Bacon Wild Rice Soup

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Soup season is upon us and this one has quickly become a favorite in our house. It’s hearty and full of flavors and textures that are sure to satisfy on a cool autumn day. It can simmer for hours or come together just before dinner.

I found the inspiration for this recipe on Pinterest. Weird, huh. The recipe I found was super heavy and void of veggies. I struggle to stick to recipes and this was no exception! It’s still a comfort food but now it is one you can feel good about serving.

Complete recipe below photo tutorial.

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To kick off this soup you will need to make the wild rice. Read the instructions for cooking on the box and then modify by switching the water out for chicken stock and double the amount of liquid recommended. After the rice is cooked there will be liquid leftover. This will make the base of the soup. Do not strain this off!

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Also to the pot of cooking rice add 2-3 thinly sliced green onions (scallions).

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While the rice is cooking chop up a few carrots and a couple of stalks of celery. Set these aside for later.

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This is also a good time to get your bacon going. This is my preferred way to cook a bunch of bacon. Line a baking sheet with foil, top with a metal baking rack, spray rack with cooking spray, and top with bacon. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy. You want this bacon to be on the very crispy side because it will be added to the soup which will soften it.

BTW, you won’t need this much bacon for the soup but if I make bacon I always make as much as possible because there are always uses for extra bacon…Always…

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Ok, if you are doing as much prep work ahead of time as you can, like I did when I last made this, you can do the bacon, chop the veggies, and cook the rice and chicken all ahead of time. After my rice was done I poured it into a glass storage container and threw it into the fridge until closer to dinner time. If you are making this all just before serving you will leave the rice / broth mix in its pot when it is done and turn off the heat.

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Once the rice is cooked or close to being done you can start your roux. You can do this even an hour or so before dinner time to let the flavors come together even more. Start by grabbing a good sturdy pot and drop in 1/2 stick of butter.

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Once the butter is good and hot drop in 1/4 cup flour. Whisk it around to incorporate.

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Continue stirring and let the flour cook for a minute or two.

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Next pour in 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whole milk, or 2% milk. Depending on how rich you want the soup or what you have in the fridge🙂 Let that come to a rapid simmer and reduce the heat so the liquid is simmering but not boiling. Let it simmer until it starts to thicken. You can check this by running your finger over the back of the wooden spoon. If there is a visible track through the liquid it is perfect.

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Now it is ready to assemble the soup. Pour in the rice / stock mixture from its pot or straight from the container out of the fridge. No need to reheat first if you made it ahead of time.

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Add in your carrots…

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And celery.

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This is when you need to check your seasoning. Add salt and pepper, cook a minute, recheck flavors, and add more of either if necessary. Let the soup simmer. The flavors will build together and the veggies will become nice and tender. Continue checking the seasonings as the veggies cook as they will absorb the salt while cooking.

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Now for the chicken. You have some options here! You could cook up some chicken like I did here or you could use rotisserie chicken from the store and really save yourself some time here! Either way, grab some cooked chicken and cut into bite sized pieces and toss into your soup.

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Mmmmm… bacon. Chop up your bacon and drop HALF of it into your soup. Not ALL of it! You will want some to garnish the soup as you serve it and to add some crunch.

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This is how I like my soups to look! I don’t like to have to search for the goodies inside! They should fill up the soup. Continue to let simmer and recheck seasonings until you are ready to serve.

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Ladle a hearty bowl full and sprinkle on some of the crispy bacon. Some nice warm bread would be amazing with this as well! Enjoy! Bring on autumn!

Chicken Bacon Wild Rice Soup
1/2 uncooked wild rice
chicken stock – double the amount of the water recommended by the instructions on the wild rice box
2-3 thinly sliced scallions
8-10 slices crispy bacon, chopped
2 cups chopped cooked chicken, can use rotisserie chicken
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whole or 2% milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook wild rice according to package replacing the water with chicken stock and doubling the amount of liquid to allow for extra liquid for soup stock. Add sliced scallions to cooking rice. While rice is cooking cook chicken or cut up rotisserie chicken. Slice carrots and celery. Cook bacon until very crispy, chop. 30 mins – 1 1/2 hours before desired serving time melt butter in heavy pot. Add flour and stir to combine completely. Cook a couple of minutes. Pour in cream / milk. Stir vigorously to mix with roux mixture. Turn heat down to simmer and allow to thicken. Once thickened add rice / stock mix, carrots, celery, chicken, and 1/2 of bacon. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer for 30 + minutes checking seasonings frequently as ingredients will absorb salt as they cook. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with remaining bacon. Enjoy!!

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