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(While it’s a gorgeous 82F outside as I post this, winter will be back to Central Texas tonight with a colder and windy day forecast for tomorrow.  Soup season isn’t totally done around here!)

Like many parents, I struggle to get vegetables in my family.  I may serve the vegetables, but they don’t usually like them.  This is one of the exceptions to the rule.  My boys willingly eat vegetables in the form of soup.

This is a recipe I have been making forever and came up with through trial and error.  It comes out slightly differently each time I make it because I throw in whatever I have around.  I often put in zucchini or yellow squash.  This could easily be cut in half if you aren’t cooking for an army.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

organic canola oil
2 organic peppers, diced  (green, red, yellow orange– whatever is available) (about 2.5 cups)
6-8 stalks organic celery, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 large organic white onion, diced (about 2 cups)
8 medium organic carrots, peeled, sliced and diced (about 3 cups)
1 organic jalapeno with seeds, minced (optional but recommended for cleaning out the sinuses!)
5 medium organic potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
1 large organic sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
2 lbs organic boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat but still whole
9 cups Mountain Valley spring water
1T organic garlic powder (or 6-8 cloves of garlic added with the onions)
2T sea salt
½ t organic black pepper
1 t organic dried rosemary
1 t organic dried thyme
1 t organic dried marjoram
2 packed cups of chopped fresh organic spinach

Coat  the bottom of an extra large pot with canola oil—I use a 7 quart Dutch oven.  Lightly sauté the peppers, celery, onion, carrots, and jalapeno over medium heat for a few minutes until the onions are beginning to become translucent.  Add the chicken, potatoes, sweet potato, water, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.  Raise the temperature to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium.  Continue cooking until the chicken breasts are done and the potatoes are starting to fall apart.  (I cook on an electric cooktop that takes longer than other stoves, so it is about 45-60 minutes on mine depending on the day and how frozen the chicken still is when I put it in the pot, but that’s just a guesstimate).  Remove the chicken breasts from the soup, allow to cool for a few minutes, and dice.*  Return the chicken to the pot along with the spinach.  Allow to cook for a few more minutes to allow the spinach to soften.

This soup will freeze but because of the potatoes in it, it doesn’t freeze well.

A half-batch version of this recipe also works well in the crockpot.  I lightly sauté the onions and then add all the ingredients except the spinach to the crockpot.  I cook on low for 8-10 hours in my 17 year old crockpot that cooks slower than new ones.  I throw in the spinach about an hour before serving.

*I abhor dealing with raw meat, so I choose to dice the chicken after it’s cooked.  You could also dice it raw and then not have to do this step.