With Fall weather in full force, my family is changing cotton sheets to flannel, breaking out extra blankets for snuggling, cleaning up leaves, and looking forward to soups and stews. Nothing beats being outside for long periods, chilled by the cool weather, then coming inside to a great smelling house with a bubbling stew. It’s a great theory – but isn’t likely to happen in my house. Knowing my luck, the soup would have boiled over on the stove, creating a mess on the burners (which would then burn and smoke the next time I turn on the stove!). To avoid a soup that needs to simmer for hours, I cheat. Quick health cooking is all about finding cheats. And yes, I’m sure Julia Child is turning over in her grave.
This week, I made white chili. Sounds like it would take forever, right? Nope. Not here. It does require planning though. In this case, it started the day before. I had a day off of work on Tuesday so was able to cook something that had to sit in the oven for a while. I took a whole chicken (such as one you can order from Tyner Pond Farm here), cut up some potatoes and butternut squash, sprinkled a little butter, salt, and thyme over the veggies and threw it in the oven. It’s great – you just let it sit in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees and it comes out with the veggies having simmered in the chicken’s juices. My 12 year old son loves the crispy skin and while my 7 year old daughter hates the fact that I’m cooking veggies rather than letting her eat them raw. (Course, she doesn’t seem to like potatoes raw either – she’s the kid who hates pretty much anything though, so I don’t take it to heart.)
After we’ve all had our fill, all I have to do for the next day is remove the rest of the meat from the chicken which wasn’t eaten. Now, you have the shredded, slow-cooked meat needed for the white chili. Magic!
When I got home from work the next day, I grabbed the chicken, a can of Great Northern white beans, a couple cubes of chicken bullion, chopped up an onion, some chopped green peppers (which came from our garden and I chopped and froze earlier in the year), a can of chopped green chilies, sweet corn cut off the cob (frozen from my Dad’s garden), a tablespoon of cumin, and water. Unfortunately, just after getting out the ingredients, I had to go get a kid from an activity, leaving my wonderful husband to finish the chili. But, all he had to do was sauté the onion and peppers for a few minutes, add everything else to the pot, and let it heat up for about 15 minutes. He could then keep quizzing on spelling words while I played chauffer. Teamwork and a great soup! And the kids still got their homework done. That’s success in our house.