Mom’s Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Cornbread Muffins

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My recipe collection has been continuously growing for years.  If memory serves, I began to amass recipes of all kinds just after graduating from college, although microwave meals were the foundation of my diet at that time.  But despite the thousands of recipes I’ve collected, sometimes nothing beats a recipe from Mom.

Cooking has been a craft deeply imbedded in my family through the generations.  My grandmother made her signature stack cake – thin, velvety layers of cake stacked between layers of a sun-dried apple paste.  Her biscuits were her pride.  She didn’t use the phrase “I love you” with great frequency.  Instead, she expressed her love for you in her mashed potatoes, cornbread, and fried pies.

My Mom is much the same – more “I love yous” but no less cooking.  She loves to experiment, creating desserts and savory dishes that she has perfected over time.  Her cheesecake borders on legendary.  And each time I visit her, while we always visit a fun restaurant for a meal and cocktails laced in conversation, a hot meal from her kitchen always awaits me.

During my last visit to her North Carolina home, she reacquainted me with one of my favorites – Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.  This is comfort food at its best: chicken and wild rice in a cheesy broth with loads of fresh vegetables.  And nothing makes the dish like some savory cornbread muffins to dunk in the soul warming broth.

This is a simple soup – easily made and a great option for a week night meal with leftovers to share or tote to the office.  It combines the best homemade elements – like fresh vegetables – with grocery items.  (Think semi-homemade.)  The cornbread muffins, too, are an easy accompaniment to this savory dish.

And if you have someone at home that isn’t a big soup eater, this could be the turn around.  While my fella never categorizes soup in the meal department, he gobbled this down and enjoyed every bite.

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 8 cups water (or chicken broth or half water/half broth)
  • 1 (6 1/4 ounce) package fast-cooking long grain and wild rice blend (such as Uncle Ben’s®)
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
  • 3 cooked chicken breasts chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) package processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta®)
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

Method

1. Sauté onion, celery and carrots in a lightly greased Dutch oven over medium heat for five minutes.
2. Add water (or broth), seasoning packet from rice, broccoli, and chicken.
3. Bring to a boil, and stir in rice; reduce heat, cover, and cook 5 minutes.
4. Add cheese and soup; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
5. Let stand for 5 – 10 minutes to let the cheese thicken and the flavors congeal.

Simple Cornbread Muffins

Ingredients 

1 large egg
2 cups cornmeal mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup whole milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Using a muffin pan, spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Beat egg well.
  4. Combine all remaining ingredients with the beaten egg.  Blend until just combined – batter should have small lumps.
  5. Spoon into muffin pan, filling each section to approximately to 3/4 full.
  6. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in muffin pan for five minutes and remove.
  8. Serve while warm.
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