“Rain, rain, go away….” But until it does make a batch of this Spicy Farmhouse Chicken and Pasta soup with Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches to warm everyone’s spirits and stomachs.
Some recipes are born from creative vision and some from necessity. This one is from both. If you live in the United States and watch the national news you’ll know what has been going on in Boulder for the last half week. What I mentioned in my last post as the start of fall transformed into a ‘National Disaster’ within 3 days. Fourteen inches of rain in 24 hours (more outside that time frame). Roadways ripped from the earth. Trickling streams turned into blazing waterways. Communities orphaned by Mother Nature requiring air lifting to rejoin the human race.
We aren’t strangers to the ritual of unexpected disaster though it usually presents in the form of wild fires. A knot in the stomach that doesn’t leave. Best preparation put in place. Long nights spent watching out our third floor window set to the background soundtrack of the public Sheriff’s scanner online, which has the latest information and interesting insight into the private workings of our community. Falling to sleep from sheer exhaustion, remote control in hand, only to wake in 45 minutes to more news coverage and repeating that cycle until the dawn light shines.
We have been spared. No leaks. No damage. Our street is clear. There is a dry creek bed two blocks south over a major street into the foothills that is raging like the Mississippi river. The photos on Twitter of our downtown looking more like an angry sea port are foreign to our view. We have not left our house at the prompting of the local authorities who are keeping the roads clear for emergency rescue vehicles. So what’s a girl to do? Cook of course.
I do love the challenge of making food from what I have on hand. In this case we were fully stocked from our last CSA share pick up. Beautiful produce at its prime begging to be made into a hearty, colorful soup to take away the chill of the pounding rain.
This soup has a sunny disposition. It is bursting with seasonal flavors, has a wonderful texture and I don’t think it could be more festive looking. To celebrate the farm nature of it I added some barnyard animal shaped (gluten-free) pasta I’ve been saving for just the right dish. Paired with mini Grilled Cheese sandwiches and everyone’s spirits were lifted. Don’t wait for a rain storm to try this out! It’s a perfect fall dish that will be served often in my household.
Spicy Farmhouse Chicken and Pasta Soup with Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Ingredients for Spicy Farmhouse Chicken and Pasta Soup:
- 1 ½ tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup Yellow Onion , chopped
- 2 large Garlic Cloves , pressed or diced
- ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
- ¾ teaspoon fresh Oregano , diced
- ¼ teaspoon Lemongrass Powder
- 8 cups Chicken Stock , Broth or Chicken Broth made with a Bouillon/Soup Base*
- 1 heaping cup Fingerling or small New Potatoes , sliced horizontally ¼ inch thick (fingerlings) or bite-sized chopped (New Potatoes)
- 1 cup Tomatoes , chopped (approximately 2 medium tomatoes)
- ¾ cup Yellow and/or Green Beans (total ¾ cup), sliced in ¾ inch pieces
- ½ cup Baby Carrots , sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 cup Corn Kernels , fresh sliced from cob. or frozen and thawed
- 2 cups Shredded Chicken (cooked)
- ½ teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 cup small Pasta variety (gluten-free or wheat pasta depending on preference)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Ingredients for Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (plan on 2-3 per person):
- 1 small French Baguette (1-2 inches in diameter) Note: if making this gluten-free and a gluten-free baguette is unavailable, normal GF sandwich bread cut into quarters may be substituted
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese (2 inch by 2 inch slice or 1-2 tablespoons per sandwich)
- Sweet unsalted butter
Instructions for Spicy Farmhouse Chicken and Pasta Soup:
- In large heavy stock pot, warm olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano and lemongrass powder. Sauté until onions are translucent (3-4 minutes).
- Pour in a cup of the stock, and using a heatproof spatula scrape bottom of the pan continuously to deglaze the pan scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add remaining stock.
- Add the potatoes, tomatoes, beans, carrots, corn, chicken and apple cider vinegar. Heat to boiling then reduce heat to medium-low and allow soup to lightly simmer until the potatoes are almost cooked (about 20 minutes).
- Add pasta and cook 10 minutes longer. Note: if the potatoes are still too hard at 20 minutes, allow them to cook longer before adding the pasta. Pasta should go in 10 minutes before the soup is done to avoid it becoming mushy.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Instructions for Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches:
- Slice the baguette in ½ inch slices (2 slices per sandwich). If using a Press: place one slice of baguette on the bottom of the press. Add the cheese, second piece of baguette. Lightly butter the top and close the press. Cook until cheese is melted and top is golden brown. Alternatively, use a heavy skillet: butter one side of each slice of bread. Heat skillet to medium-high. Place the buttered side of baguette slice facing the skillet. Add cheese, and top with a second piece of baguette with the buttered side up. Brown lightly on bottom side, gently flip and cook on the second side until the cheese has melted and baguette is golden brown. Allow to sit a few minutes before eating.
While not cooking or watching hours of news coverage, I’ve started a Pinterest board of Rainy Day Food; other soul-warming dishes to take the edge off. Come take a peek and follow!
Becky LeJeune says
Glad to hear you guys are alright, Toni! Luckily it seems none of our friends suffered more than flooded basements (at the worst) through this. It’s been a truly insane weekend with family calling us from Louisiana to check to see if we’ve floated away (a first since it’s usually the reverse).
Toni Dash says
Becky, my belated thanks for checking in and I am glad you are also ok. It’s unbelievable to see photos of the destruction in the canyons and farmlands to the east. I’m sure this will be a long recovery. A good time to count our blessings!
Bethany Therrien says
Where did you find the GF barnyard animal shaped pasta!?! My GF kids miss all of the fun pasta shapes.
Toni Dash says
Hi Bethany! I am not positive where I bought it; possibly at the Vitamin Cottage. However here is a link for it from the manufacturer, perhaps you can check around your area or order online. Good luck! It is nice to have some fun shapes for GF kids.
I’ve been thinking about you Toni — so happy to hear you are ok. The soup looks warm and comforting. Take care of yourself.
Toni Dash says
Thank you so much Yvette and my apologies on my delay in responding (right after the flood I came down with a 5 day flu bug that has gotten me way off track!). Hard to believe this was all happening a week ago, isn’t it? Glad your family is safe as well.
Jennifer-The Adventuresome Kitchen says
Necessity certainly is the mother of invention, is it not? This looks like the perfect comfort food anytime! Thinking of you and all our dear friends in the area- not to mention the countless small farms that likely had their season end abruptly this week 🙁
Toni Dash says
Belated thanks Jennifer for your care. Things are on the mend locally but I think Colorado will be a long time in recovery.
You have been in my thoughts. Here in Southern California we worry about fires, and of course earthquakes. Flooding, not so much, although some regions can be in trouble with heavy rain, especially if that rain comes on the heels of a devastating fire.
I am glad to hear that you have been spared. The news footage is just terrifying. Thank heavens for folks who prepare and are able to keep their wits about them and also for the very brave rescue workers. Without those brave souls who are willing to help strangers we would all be lost.
This sure does have a sunny disposition. That pasta is just darling! And I love that you were able to make such a lovely meal from what you had on hand. Nice work! This looks like a fabulous meal, rain or shine. I covet your little covered dishes!
Toni Dash says
I’m an ex Californian Adri, went to college there and stayed, experiencing the big earthquake in ’89 that shut off much of the extended Bay Area. Just happened to be temporarily living in a pocket of San Jose at the time that was unscathed. It is all scary. We also live right next to the foothills in Boulder and have been evacuated for wildfires. It’s nerve wracking at the least.
Many of our friends and the kids’ classmates have been airlifted from their homes, have homes deemed unlivable and flooded basements. However we Coloradoans have a hardy constitution. Friends are already beginning to rebuild. Classmates are promising ‘great stories to tell Monday’ from military airlifting. We all bear a bit of Nike’s famous ‘just do it’ spirit I think.
All that said, it doesn’t change the mind bending reality of the devastation. And it’s raining again today.
Jodee Weiland says
Love the recipe…looks delicious! This will be great for the fall season!
Toni Dash says
I agree Jodee; thank you! Funny how sometimes the most simple foods are the most satisfying.
We have family who lives east of Lafayette who sent us pics of their property—front yard is a lake. Glad all is well with you. Love this soup and it is satisfying to make something delicious with what is on hand. Take care. (Love your barnyard dishes too.)
Toni Dash says
It really is unfathomable. I have watched hours and hours of news coverage and the eastern area around Greeley looks now like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We have friends who have been airlifted out of the burn area (their home was spared the fire, hopefully it will again), homes flooded out in El Dorado canyon (already beginning the mitigation and rebuilding) and many flooded basements. We are on the last day of rain, threatening up to two inches then headed for the mid 80’s. We have not driven anywhere based on the requrest to stay off the roads but I’m curious to see how things are. Concerned over the stability of the roadways after this degree of saturation.
In the meantime, I’ll cook!
Jaime the German granddaughter says
Toni, looks delicious. I too was hit by the rain. Not as lucky as you. Half our home (lower half) has standing water. 🙁 the only good news is my kitchen is in working order. Cooking is my saving grace. My normal. Take care
Toni Dash says
Jaime I’m so sorry about your basement. I think we are all tempering things through the fact it could be so much worse however we had a pipe break in our basement a year ago which we caught right away but the process to rectify things was arduous at best. I hope you haven’t lost treasured things but am glad it was not worse and hope this next bought of rain won’t cause more damage. Thinking of you.
Toby @ Plate Fodder says
It is truly a blessing that you’ve been spared the raging flood waters. Stay dry and keep safe!
I’m diggin’ that soup! My kind of flavors.
(and I’m more than a little jealous that you got those barnyard pastas… I’ve only been able to find moosehead ones – and eating soup talking like Bullwinkle gets a little old after the first couple of bites.)
Toni Dash says
Thank you Toby. It’s surreal to see the new footage and know of so many friends whose homes are now unlivable or with flooded basements. We are just graced by where we live and that the nearest flow of water did not migrate our direction. We have one last bought of rain today, promising up to 2 more inches which with the state of things already may cause more destruction. Fortunately we are headed toward a spell of mid 80’s weather next week.
I love these little shapes too! I tend to pick up things like this when I see them and have had this, waiting, for some time. Gluten-free too! Nothing like a green rooster or a pink sow to brighten a dreary day!
Thanks so much for checking in. I really appreciate it.
I have been thinking about you – and the floods in your region are not only on the national news but international – the French news has been covering it for days. I am glad you are safe and dry, although what a horror to think about all those others. And really, nothing beat a bowl of broth laden with chicken and pasta (and fun pasta!)… and a good old-fashioned grilled cheese.
Toni Dash says
You are the sweetest Jamie! I’m shocked we are making the French news. I suppose our training ground for international athletes and cyclists gives us some mind share relating to the Tour de France.
Fortunately my family is safe and dry. Our nearest threat is the trickle of a creek I mentioned in the post that is now a body of raging water to be reckoned with two blocks away. Thus far it is staying on its side of the road! We have another day of rain today then a dry out. I think with the current saturation the few inches expected today are concerning. I’m really to just be through it. Feeling a bit like a shut in after not leaving our neighborhood for 4 days. Will be interesting to venture out when the coast is clear in the next days.
Thank you SO much for checking in. It really means so much.