Not-so-meatless Sunday: Meat as Condiment
Obviously, if we want to eat in a way that’s most sustainable and respectful of the earth we live on, one of the things we probably oughta do is cut way back on the meat…what’s not as obvious is exactly how much, and I’m not even going to dive into that one, since the blogosphere regularly erupts over that question.
But one of the concepts I heard years ago has stuck with me: use meat not as a main serving, but as more of a condiment, a little extra something thrown in to accompany the much larger proportion of veggies and grains. It works… the more I do it, the more I absolutely don’t miss having more; there’s just a little, but it’s enough. So for Sunday dinner tonight, we’re having one of my tomato-rice-and-broth messes, something I could probably call “Chicken Creole Soup.” My mom used to make something very like this and serve it over rice; I’m cooking the rice in the stockpot with the broth and veggies, and it’ll be soupier when it’s done than hers was. I’ll wind up with probably 4 quarts of soup; meat-wise all I’ve got in there is 3 little chicken tenderloins and 2 5-inch andouille sausages that started at Trader Joe’s and wound up in my freezer for an appallingly long time. Even that’s more meat than it needs, I just needed to clean out the freezer!
Chicken Creole Soup
In a large soup pot, saute in a little oil (in order):
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed (or more)
- 1 celery heart, chopped
- 1-2 bell peppers, any color, chopped
Add cut up chicken breast (as much or as little as you want or have!) and about 6 inches worth of smoked andouille or kielbasa sausage (optional), sliced and quartered.
Add 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth (If you decide to go vegetarian, use veggie broth. And leave out the chicken and sausage. And probably change the recipe name.) and 1 28 oz can (or 1 quart) diced tomatoes.
Add up to 1 cup of brown rice, depending on how “soupy” you like your soup.
Season with 1 tsp dried thyme, and whatever cajun-type spices you like. (Red and/or black pepper, paprika, oregano, cayenne, onion powder…lots of options here! Google “cajun spice recipe” and get hits galore! For me it’s the thyme and celery that give it what it needs…)
Let cook, covered, until rice is tender, probably about 40 minutes. Don’t overcook or the rice will go to mush. The vegetarian version would be delicious with a can or two of beans added. (So would the non-veggie version, for that matter, but my beloved spouse is getting sick of beans.)
This is one of our standbys–remember, you can combine equal parts of broth and canned tomatoes and make them the deliciously blank slate for addition of veggies, proteins, grains, and whatever palette of seasonings you feel moved to decorate them with.