Today’s lunch idea comes as the temperatures are cooling down in Seattle. We had a couple of weeks of 80 degree weather this summer–but that was about it for summer weather. Most of the time it was cool. And often rainy. I know I can’t really complain given the awful high temperatures and drought that happened in other parts of the country. Also, this summer was pedal to the medal with my book and other projects, so I didn’t have a ton of time to complain (much) about the weather.
Today feels like a turning point. I has rained the last few nights and the rain smells different. It’s not summer rain. I stepped outside to let the chickens out into their yard and it just smelled like fall. Specifically, fall rain. Cool and heavy. Not light and refreshing, as summer rain is. Fall is definitely here. As someone who always worked in education and now has a school-aged daughter, fall is a time of new beginnings and experiences. Thus, I am energized by fall. And, of course, the cooler weather is quite friendly for cooking and baking.
Now that it’s getting cooler, Girlfriend likes soups in her lunch. And we have a terrific thermos for her lunchbox. It has a two piece top that includes a space for storing the nifty fold-up spoon it comes with. Today’s soup is very simple and yet quite flavorful. It includes red bell peppers because I know that kids often like red bell peppers more than green because they are a bit more sweet. Please note that you can use whatever color bell pepper you want to. You may or may not know that a red bell pepper is a mature green bell pepper. The only caveat is that red bell peppers have slightly more vitamins than do green bell peppers. But, not enough to make it a must have.
We like to serve this soup over brown rice. Brown rice is brown because its outer coating of bran is intact, while white rice has the outer coating removed. The outer coating is what contains the vitamins and fiber of the rice. It is also more flavoful than white rice. We eat both white and brown rice, but our standard is short-grained brown rice. In fact, it was Girlfriend’s first food. She ate it with almost every meal. Consequently, for years we had dried cooked brown rice kernels floating around the house. Seriously, I felt like we would never not have brown rice in every nook and cranny, no matter how much we swept and vaccuumed. It even contributed to the whole “mouse-bat” situation several years ago (search mouse-bat on the site search box). That is now a problem of the past, as Girlfriend is much better at getting the food into her mouth now than when she was a baby and toddler.
In case you you’re not familiar with brown rice, below are instructions on how to cook it. It’s quite easy once you know the ratio of water to rice. I find that we like the chewiness of the short-grained brown rice over the long-grained variety. And, every time I serve the short grained to people, they comment that they like it much better than the long grained. But, the directions are the same regardless of what kind of brown rice you use, so choose your favorite and get cooking!
Chicken and Red Bell Pepper Soup
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 TBL olive oil
- 1 chicken breast, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1-15 oz can can of navy or canellini beans (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 C chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tsp cumin
- to taste salt
- to taste freshly ground pepper
- Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken, stir until just barely cooked.
- Add garlic, onions, and bell pepper. Saute until onion and bell pepper are softened--about 5 minutes.
- Add beans and stock, stir to combine.
- Add cumin, stir to combine. Bring soup to a boil, then cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer until vegetables are soft and flavors have melded--30-45 minutes.
- Add salt and freshly ground brown pepper to taste.
- If desired, serve over brown rice (recipe following)
- To store, let cool and then place in an airtight container (I use mason jars) and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Perfect Brown Rice
Yield: 6 servings
- 2 C Short-grained brown rice
- 3 C water
- The ideal ratio of brown rice to cooking water is 2 parts rice to 3 parts water.
- Pour water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat.
- Cover and bring to a boil. Add rice, stir once to make sure rice is distributed.
- Place lid on pot, lower heat to a simmer.
- Let simmer until done--about 20 minutes. It is important that you do not bother the rice! No peeking! Let it cook in peace (this bit of wisdom comes from Mollie Katzen).
- Remove from heat and serve.
- Eat plain or with wheat-free tamari or with soup.
- To store: cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.