Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chicken and Bean Stew

Chicken & Bean Stew
Home Cooking


In a bid to get healthy, I've vowed to increase my intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and other good things. In fact, upon coming back from China, I ACTUALLY promised myself to eat exclusively unprocessed fruit, vegetables and tofu. Of course, that idea quickly evaporated when I realized I didn't value my healthy enough to give up the no. 1 love of my life (ahem, food... in case you were wondering).

After a random shopping trip during which I picked up an ear of corn and a chicken frame (bargain at $1.50!), I decided to go for a chicken and corn soup.

Just as I started to get the ingredients prepared, I remembered the bean mix I purchased and thought: why not throw this in? Beans are super healthy - low in fat, high in protein and fiber plus a range of vitamins and what not (that I won't go into because I actually don't know).

My packet included: pearl barley, yellow split peas, green split peas, mung beans, white beans, red split lentils, small red beans, black eye beans, faba beans, whole green lentils, pinto beans...

Chicken and Bean Stew
Makes a pot - approx 4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 a chicken frame, cut into 2 pieces (so that it fits the pot)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely (I used red onion because that's what I had lying around but brown or white will do)
  • 1 stalk of cellery, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 med-sized potatoes, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 ear of corn, if chopped into segments you can throw the segments in. I sliced the corn kernels from the core
  • 1/2 cup of dried bean mix (you can buy these soup mixes in the supermarket with as much or as little variety per packet as you like)
  • 1/2 can Chinese chicken stock (less herby than they Western kind)
  • chicken salt to taste
Procedure:

1. In a large saucepan, brown the onions on high heat with a little oil. Add the cellery and wait for it to soften.2. Add the chicken frame and add enough water so that the chicken is completely submerged.
3. Wait for the water to boil. Once boiling, add the carrots and potatoes and return to the boil.4. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the bean mix and corn and cook for 1-1.5 hours, gently stirring on occasion (I kept the lid on).
5. When the beans have softened sufficiently, you will find that the water level has gone down (beans soak up water + water evaporates during cooking). Top up with the chicken stock. Simmer with the lid off if you have too much liquid.
6. Season with chicken salt to taste (not too much because it'll drown out the other flavors - if you add a bit of chicken salt and think it needs more, add regular salt).
Note: The stew thickens over time so if you serve it the next day, it will be heavy and chunkier.

I was quite pleased with my soup-making effort. These kinds of dishes make it so easy to full-fill your daily recommended fiber intake. I loved the pearl barley (from my soup mix packet) and the addition of corn gives it a nice crunch and sweetness. Furthermore, the chicken and bean stew is extremely budget friendly. Even in these economically-difficult times, a $1.50 chicken frame and packet of dried soup mix remains affordable.

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