Comfort Food without the Uncomfortable Guilt

January 20, 2010   2 Comments

Comfort food, by definition, makes us feel better. The BEST comfort food are the ones that both make us feel better and are healthy.

Homemade Chicken Soup

You can avoid eating high calorie comfort food by choosing a low calorie comfort food. That is where chicken soup comes in.

You can buy it canned or in pre-made plastic containers at the grocery store, but they lack the taste of homemade soup.

Homemade chicken soup is one of life great pleasures. It makes your home smell really good, and it is cheap and easy to make.

The recipe here is one that I have made about 100 times. I just keep coming back to it's simplicity and taste.

I advocate for making your own stock. You CAN skip this step, but it won't taste nearly as good. I haven't met a manufactured stock that I like as much as my own.

This recipe takes 2 days - but involves very little prep time. My innovation is that I use the chicken that will go into the soup to make the stock. That way, I have the cooked chicken ready to add when I finish my soup.

I add pasta to my soup because I have kids and they LOVE pasta. If you want to avoid the extra calories, just leave it out and it will still taste great (is about 190 calories for one cup without the pasta).

This is also a great vegetable delivery device for children who love to avoid vegetables. Hopefully, they will hardly notice those veggies swimming with chicken and the pasta.

Homemade Chicken Soup

(12 servings)
Chicken Stock (make one day ahead)
1 whole 3-4 pound chicken (rinsed and patted dry)
1 cup roughly chopped onion (no need to peel)
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 pinch dried thyme
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
14 cups of water (3 1/2 quarts)
Combine all ingredients in stock pot and add water. Bring to a boil, and then adjust heat so that the mixture sends up a few bubbles at a time. Cook until the chicken is done (about 40 minutes). Strain into a large bowl and press on vegetables to get out as much stock. Refrigerate overnight so that you can remove the fat which will harden at the surface of the liquid.

Chicken Soup
Chicken Stock from day before (about 12-14 cups)
2 cups pasta (Rotini is a good shape for this)
4 carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
4 celery stalks, minced
Chicken meat from one 3-4 pound chicken
Salt and Pepper to taste

Remove fat from surface of stock with a spoon. Cut chicken meat off the carcass and chop. Pour stock into large, deep saucepan or casserole and bring to a boil. Adjust heat so that the stock simmers. Add the pasta, carrot, celery and cook until tender (about 20 minutes). Add cooked chicken and adjust seasonings. I usually add a lot of salt at this step because I find the soup at this point to be pretty bland.

What is your favorite comfort food snack? Please share below.

Want to read about more snacks?
How To Bake Your Own Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
The Fastest, Healthiest Snack in the West
The Worst Pizza on the Planet

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Good timing on article. For me anyways! Just today I was reading about the 'comfort food' aspect of McDonalds burgers in a book called "The Omnivore's Dilemma." It really struck home. The author talked about how the flavor and aroma enhancements to the food, if you had experienced it as a kid, could really turn this stuff into comfort food. He's right. There's something about it that every so often, ya' just need a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. (Or whatever it is they use and call cheese.) Maybe I'll just go for the Chicken Soup next time this urge hits!

Dr. Brian Wansink's book, "Mindless Eating", also talks about replacing high calorie comfort foods with low calorie comfort foods. You just have to figure out which are your comfort foods - and choose the healthier versions.

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