A few months ago, I posted the picture below to Instagram and so many people were asking for the recipe, I knew I had to blog about it. I'm not the biggest fan of soup, honestly, especially in the summer. But the day I made this soup, I had a cold and it was rainy and gross out and I had some cherry tomatoes I needed to use ASAP. And I ended up making a delicious soup that was pretty easy and very tasty!
Since I had the time and the tomatoes I needed to use, I roasted my tomatoes before making the soup. If you don't have the time or the tomatoes, you can definitely used a can of crushed tomatoes. If you're doing it the long way like I did, take a carton of cherry tomatoes and dump it into a baking dish with 1-2 tbsp olive oil (just enough to coat the tomatoes), salt, and a clove or two of peeled garlic. The garlic is going to flavor the oil and the tomatoes. Roast these at 400° for 20 minutes. You want to hear the oil sizzling and the tomatoes should be bursting. Leave your oven on!
Meanwhile, cook a slice or two of bacon either in a pan on the stove or on a sheet tray right alongside the tomatoes in the oven. The bacon should only take about 8 minutes to cook in the oven - keep an eye on it! Drain on a plate with paper towels after they are out of the oven.
When the tomatoes have finished in the oven, put them and the garlic into a pot, along with 1/2 cup of low-sodium chicken broth and 1 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Cook on high for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and cook on low heat until the liquid begins to thicken, another 5 minutes, then shut off the stove. At this point, TASTE the soup. There's a good chance it will need salt. Add basil if you like, too!
While the soup cools a little and thickens some more, make the grilled cheese!
Take two slices of bread, spread the "inside" with mayonnaise on both slices. Lay a slice of provolone cheese on one slice of bread, and a slice of cheddar cheese on the other slice of bread. Tear your bacon in half and lay on one of the slices, then close the sandwich. Smear softened butter on the outside of the sandwich and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (both sides). Heat up a small oven-safe skillet so it's warm but not smoking hot. Place the sandwich in the warm pan, then put the pan into the oven for 6-7 minutes.
While the sandwich is cooking, carefully pour the soup into a blender. If the soup fills more than half of the blender, do this in batches. The soup is still hot and I don't want you to burn yourself! Puree the soup until everything is smooth and combined.
Pour the soup into a bowl, take the grilled cheese out of the oven, and have an awesome lunch! The soup is creamy but not too thick, which is the texture I prefer. If you want your soup creamier, add more cream! And this grilled cheese, oh man. The Parmesan on the outside gives it a crunchy bite and the cheese is gooey and the bacon gives you that salty meaty kick.
Make this the next time you need a little comfort in your life. Here's the recipe!
Chicken Divan is one of my all-time favorite meals. When I was growing up, everyone got to pick their favorite meal to have for their birthday dinner. Mine was always chicken divan. My mom would play around with the recipe, too, and no matter what she added, it was still my favorite dish. Now, as an adult living in the South, I have had so many iterations of chicken divan at potlucks with interesting additions like curry powder or even raisins, but I always come back around to my version - I think it's the best ;)
First, make 2 servings of rice using your usual method. I don't own a rice cooker so I make it on the stove: bring 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth to a boil, add in a pinch of salt, a dash of Italian seasoning, and then 1 cup of rice. Immediately turn the stove to low, put on the lid, and turn the stove off after 18 minutes. That is my fool-proof method for making rice.
While the rice is cooking, bake a chicken breast rubbed with a 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, and 1 tbsp dijon mustard in the oven on 350 for 15 minutes*. Chop up one small head of broccoli and steam in the microwave for 4 minutes.
When I make this, I bake the chicken in the oval-shaped dish above before removing it to the cutting board. I re-spray the pan with cooking spray and add the rice to this dish. This saves me time and is less to clean up later while also preserving all of those flavors from when I cooked the chicken and transferring them to the rice!
*If you don't want/have the time to bake a chicken breast, you can definitely use leftover chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home and just use the meat of one breast.
Then make the basic sauce to mix into the chicken and broccoli. Like I mentioned earlier, there are so many variations of this recipe out in the world, so feel free to play around with this part! This is where you can really add your unique touch - like I do with horseradish, here. Roasted garlic would be a great addition, or even a splash of fish sauce! Either would add a funky umami flavor.
For this mixture, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Duke's is THE. BEST. Don't let anyone tell you different), 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp prepared horseradish, and 1-2 tsps to taste of lemon juice*, and a sprinkle of salt.
*I used the bottled lemon juice because I didn't have any fresh lemons. That's another great thing about this recipe - you most likely have all of these ingredients at home all the time. The chicken breast I used was one I had previously frozen in an individual Ziploc bag after buying a big pack of them at the store. You can always use frozen broccoli if you don't have any fresh, and everyone has rice, right?
Dice or shred the chicken breast, add to the broccoli (make sure you drain out any water leftover from steaming), and pour on the sauce!
This is going to be so creamy and tangy. It's making my mouth water all over again just looking at these photos!
If you're mixing all of this together and it still seems a little dry, alternate adding each of the sauce ingredients 1 tsp (horseradish, lemon, or dijon) or 1 tbsp (mayo) at a time until you get a creamy consistency and the same flavor is maintained.
Next, pour the creamy chicken and broccoli mixture on top of the rice. See how this is glossy and creamy without being too gloopy? This is what you're aiming for. However, if you like yours a little thicker, be my guest! Like I've said, this is totally a dish you can customize to your liking. Have fun with it!
These are your last three ingredients: shredded cheddar (I had mild on hand, but I usually prefer sharp), Italian breadcrumbs, and cooking spray - use whichever flavor you like. We are just going to layer these on top!
Then top with breadcrumbs and spray lightly with cooking spray so the breadcrumbs brown nicely.
Bake at 350 (keep your oven on from cooking the chicken) for 25 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly and the cheese is melted.
This is the perfect size for two people or if you're just feeding yourself, have half for dinner and save the other half for your lunch the next day! You could double this recipe as well to feed a family of four. A simple salad on the side is the perfect accompaniment but if you just want to eat this by itself...I won't tell anyone.
Here's the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.