A Warming Recipe for Cold Winter Nights--Potpie Chicken Soup

creamy chicken soup pic.jpg

This week, I have had the privilege of having Joel home while others are flitting around to other places. He will be leaving soon, so I have made time each day to have one on one time to pray with him and to hear what is on his mind. Joel is, oddly, one of those men who learned to cook over the years in our home. He likes to talk while we are cooking together.

What great conversations we have had, inspirations shared, dreams meted out. Again, I am reminded how important the family table is to building depth of relationships, a foundation of true thoughts and ideas. Even now, with all adult children, food is a catalyst for so many relationship builders.

Cooking is for sharing friendship. Eating together is for shaping souls and affirming love and belonging. 

Our family has lived either in Europe or the mountains of Colorado for most of our lives together, which means we have shared many a cold, dark winter evening. I actually think the cold nights when we all had to stay in because we could dread going outside was one of the ways we became glued to each other's hearts.

Consequently, when I ask what someone wants for dinner, often the answer will be soup and bread--because they associate it with communion of life, sweetness of belonging to one another. A warm, bubbly, herb laden soup fills my home with inviting fragrance and warmed bread with butter pleases most all appetites.

This chicken soup is the favorite (with White Christmas Soup running a close race), so I had to share it with you! Oh, and Sarahstrone is up there. (Thanks for all the letters about how much you love these soups--they gave me ideas of what to make this month as sometimes I go blank when I need to make one more meal! Sweet to read your letters about how much you love Lifegiving Table--warms my heart. Thanks for writing. Wish I could answer everyone.)

Hmmmm--guess we just love all of these delicious soups. Be sure you take the time to linger over the luscious warmth.

The Clarkson Kids’ Favorite Potpie Chicken Soup

2 cups diced red or russet potatoes
3 cups (12-ounce bag) frozen peas and carrots (If you can’t find this
frozen mix, you can substitute 11⁄2 cups each frozen peas and fresh carrots. Or you can use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, but check the ingredients—my family won’t eat the kind with lima beans!)

4 cups water (You can add more later if needed.)
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1–2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic paste
1 medium to large onion, chopped (We love lots of onion in almost
1 tablespoon dried thyme, parsley, and rosemary combined or to
taste. (I like a lot, especially thyme. If you want to use fresh herbs, triple this amount.)
2–4 cups diced cooked chicken breast
2 tablespoons butter
11⁄2 teaspoons condensed chicken bouillon or base (This is a kind
of concentrated paste that comes in jars or plastic containers. I buy mine at health food markets or Sam’s Club, but you can also find it in many grocery stores. If you use the dry powder, you’ll need to adjust the amount to taste. Try to avoid the kind with MSG.)

1⁄3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1⁄2 cup wine, optional (For this soup I usually use a white wine
such as Riesling.)
1 teaspoon or more salt (I use sea salt of different varieties.)
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
Sour cream and chives or fresh herbs to garnish, optional

Boil the potatoes and frozen veggies in the water until cooked through, about 20–30 minutes. (I use a pressure cooker for
4–5 minutes and veggies and potatoes are done.) While veggies are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter in another pan; sauté garlic, onion, and herbs until onion is translucent. Add onion mixture and chicken to pot with the veggies and let soup simmer on low while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, melt 2 tablespoons butter in another pan. Stir
in chicken bouillon. Whisk in flour and stir mixture constantly over medium heat until all the lumps have disappeared. Add milk and cook until mixture is thickened, then add the wine (if using). Slowly add milk mixture to soup, stirring as it thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. If desired, add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives or herbs. We like to serve this soup with croutons sprinkled on top and with toast and applesauce on the side.

This is a really simple recipe that can be adjusted many ways. For instance, you could use brown rice or noodles instead of potatoes, fresh veggies or a different mix of frozen ones, or even omit the milk mixture and just put the bouillon directly into the soup. I use whatever I have on hand and whatever sounds good at the time.

Serves 6–8, depending on size of serving.

Find all of these soup recipes and more in The Lifegiving Table. I hope you are enjoying comfortable evenings around the table this January! If you're looking for practical thoughts on table-time discipleship, plus more wonderful recipes, I think you'll enjoy my book, The Lifegiving Table.