Convalescence Beef Stew and Cilantro Lime Pulled Chicken Soup
Recovering from Surgery? Vacation? The Weekend???
These 2 soups/stews are full of nutrients and comfort to nourish, recharge and heal you regardless of what you are recovering from.
I spent the last week recovering from Laparoscopic Surgery. Last week also marked the beginning of my husband and I's three month journey to IVF so I wanted to be very deliberate about what I was feeding both of us in this very important week. Because life got in the way, I was only able to prep 2 meals, but they have lasted us all week. And let's be real - when you are prepping for vacation or for surgery, or even having a great weekend there are always 500 things more to do than you thought. And 2 soups are manageable. REAL TALK - I made the Beef Stew in the slow-cooker Sunday, and walked my husband through the prep of the Cilantro-Lime Pulled Chicken Soup on Tuesday. Both could be made in the slow-cooker. Both can be frozen, and both are simple enough to walk your lesser culinary-inclined spouse through. Winner Winner, Recovery Dinner.
And please forgive the photography - [DRAMATIC INTERPRETATION] I did my best while basically surviving 4 knife wounds - one of which was my BELLY BUTTON 😱. Which of course I've been obsessing about whether or not will be mangled for life. Turns out - I think its gonna be ok!
Cooking should be a joy, not a stress. These recipes are guidelines, not an absolute. Use what you have, trust your taste.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 4-8 hours, depending on method
This stew is a hearty, healing, comforting meal. The emphasis is on vegetables and fresh herbs while drawing out as much flavor as possible from locally sourced, organic high-quality beef. Additional richness develops from the addition of mushrooms and carmelized onions.
1 Onion, any color, diced
4-5 Cloves Garlic or more!
8 oz Mushrooms, any kind, sliced, halved or quartered
1-2 Tbls Ghee
1 Lb Organic, locally sourced Stewing Beef 1 Lb Carrots, sliced into rounds
1 Bunch Celery, sliced into half moons
1 Pound Red Nugget Potato, quartered
6 cups Organic Beef or Chicken Stock
12 Ounces Frozen Peas
1-3 Tbls Potato Starch, for thickening
1-3 Tbls Tamari, to taste
Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
1 Tbls Dried Thyme (could also use dried basil or rosemary)
1 Tbls Dried Oregano
1 Bunch Fresh Parsley, chopped
1-3 Tbls Fresh Oregano, chopped
Micro-greens, any kind, for garnish
Green Onion, sliced, for garnish
Rinse stewing beef and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and allow to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Gather and prep vegetables.
Heat a Cast Iron Skillet over medium high heat. Once hot but not smoking, add stewing beef, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Allow beef to caramelize before turning. The goal is to brown as much surface area of the beef as possible to draw out the most flavor. Once browned, set aside.
In same skillet, add 1 Tbls ghee so that the ghee coats the pan and begins to loosen brown bits from beef. Scrape up bits with a wooden spoon. Add more ghee if necessary - the ghee will only enhance the overall flavor. Add chopped onion, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms. Once onions are translucent, you can add garlic, cooking for another 2-3 minutes, continuing to stir so garlic doesn't burn. To develop more flavor, wait to add your garlic until onions have browned and started to carmelize.
Gather slow cooker and add browned beef and juices, onion, mushrooms and garlic, carrot, celery, and potatoes. Top with stock of choice. Add dried thyme and oregano. At this point, you can add 1 tsp of salt to continue to build foundations of flavor. You can wait to salt your stew at the end, but adding salt at this stage will help draw out flavors during the cook.
Set slow cooker to high and cook for 4-6 hours, or you can cook on low for 6-8 hours or longer. The longer the stew cooks, the more tender the beef will become.
At the short end of cooking times, begin to check for doneness of vegetables. Vegetables should be tender but not mushy. Beef should begin to easily pull apart with a fork. You can add 1 Tbls of potato starch at this point to begin thickening. I don't make a slurry when using potato starch, but you can add potato starch to about 1/4 cup stew broth separately and then add to slow cooker to more easily incorporate. Potato starch does not need to simmer like other thickeners.
Once you are happy with the vegetables, add your potato starch if you haven't already, 1 Tbls at a time until you reach your desired thickness. Keep in mind that the stew will thicken once it cools, and also will thicken after refrigerated or frozen and re-heated. You can also reduce the moisture in the stew and therefore thicken it by continuing to cook on high with the lid removed to release steam. If stew is too thick, add water, 1/4 cup at a time to loosen.
Stir in frozen peas and allow to heat through (1-3 minutes). Add chopped fresh parsley and oregano. Adjust seasoning by adding Tamari and/or salt to taste (1/2 - 1 tsp at a time).
To Serve and Store: Ladle into serving bowls and top with additional fresh parsley and oregano, micro-greens or green onion. This stew is even better the next day. Allow to cool to room temperature and store in refrigerator for 1-3 days; freeze for up to 3 months for best quality.
Cilantro Lime Pulled Chicken Soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
This is an easy version of this soup, which can also be made in a Slow Cooker (see note). The result is a fresh, light soup that is still hearty and healing. The Cilantro and Lime steal the show, while the focus is on vegetables and the final garnish with creamy strands of chicken to fill out the soup.
1 Red Onion
1 Bulb Garlic
2 Large Locally Sourced Organic Chicken Breasts, quartered
6 cups Organic Chicken Stock
Vegetables of Choice. For the soup pictured I used:
Rainbow Chard Stalks, chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
1 pound Carrots, Chopped into thin rounds
3 stalks Celery
4 ounces Mushrooms, quartered
1 cup Cauliflower, chopped into small florets with stalks
1 Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 Yellow Squash, sliced into half moons
1 Bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 Tbls Ghee
2 Tbls Cumin
1 Tbls Smoked Paprika
Chili spices to taste (Aleppo, Red Pepper, Chipotle)
1 Tbls Dried Oregano
Salt, to taste
For garnish: Avocado, Green Onion, sliced Micro-Greens, Lime wedges
In a large pot or dutch oven, add ghee and cook onion over medium heat. Once translucent, add garlic and cook for 1-3 minutes, stirring frequently so garlic doesn't burn.
Add Chicken Breasts, cover with stock. Season with 1 tsp of salt and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Chicken should easily pull apart.
Once chicken pulls apart, add all vegetables, cumin, paprika and oregano. Lightly simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Check for doneness. Vegetables should be soft but not mushy.
Once vegetables are cooked, you can pull chicken further apart or leave in larger pieces. Add juice of one lime and chopped cilantro, reserving some for garnish. Add salt to taste and adjust seasoning. For more spice, add more cumin, paprika and chili spices. Add more lime juice if desired.
To Serve and Store: Ladle into serving bowls and top with avocado, green onion, micro-greens, additional cilantro and serve with additional lime wedges. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for 1-3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months for best quality.
NOTE: This soup could also be made in the slow cooker by adding Onion, Garlic, Chicken, Carrot, Celery, Chicken Stock and 1 tsp salt and cooking on high for 3 hours, 30 minutes or until chicken pulls apart. Add remaining vegetables and spices for last 30 minutes of cooking time. In the last 15 minutes of cooking time add lime juice, cilantro, and adjust seasoning.