Welcome to our weekly series called Texas Health-y Home Cooking!
You’re cooped up at home and well into the new reality of stay-at-home life. But despite the current state of crazy, dinnertime comes around as usual, the kids are hungry — and your hunger pangs are kicking in, too. So, what are you supposed to do?
Many have turned to social media for recipes from their favorite television chefs, such as Food Network veteran chef, Alton Brown.
Dry beans, grains, canned tomatoes, maybe some eggs. Oh, dry pasta and capers, tinned fish…gin. We can get through this.
— Alton Brown (@altonbrown) March 16, 2020
But we were inspired to take a look in our own backyard and asked some top chefs/restaurant owners and dietitians in North Texas for their recommendations on healthy meals that can be prepared with items you likely already have on hand — think canned beans or tomatoes, whole wheat pasta, or the fresh or frozen produce chilling in your fridge.
Abraham Salum, Salum Restaurant
4152 Cole Ave., Dallas
Dallas fine diners and those on the fundraising circuit are likely familiar with Chef Salum and his popular Uptown eatery. His idea for a healthy meal made with ingredients on hand is an aromatic chicken soup with rice and veggies.
“In times like this, we’re all looking for something satisfying and comforting, too,” says Chef Salum. “One of my favorites is a Caldo de Pollo para el Alma — Chicken Soup for the Soul — with rice and veggies. It reminds me of my childhood and growing up with my family in Mexico, and it’s an easy meal that’s pretty adaptable with what you might have on hand in the fridge and pantry. I make it often, and it never fails to make me happy.”
Caldo de Pollo para el Alma (Chicken Soup for the Soul)
- 1 whole chicken About 3-4 pounds, cut out in pieces
- 8 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 white onion
- 4 garlic cloves peeled
- 3 Celery sprigs
- 3 Large carrots cut into 3 pieces each
- 2 Cilantro branches
Place chicken, water, and salt into a large stockpot and at medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once foam starts forming on the surface, skim and discard. After removing the foam, add the onion, garlic, and celery. Partially cover the pot. Turn the heat down and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. Do not boil.
Add the carrots, cilantro, and if you are using other vegetables, add them 15 minutes later since carrots take longer to cook. Check the chicken for doneness and, once cooked, remove and set aside to cool.
Keep simmering the broth for about 10 more minutes until carrots are completely cooked. When the chicken pieces have cooled, shred it or cut into small bite-sized pieces. Dice the carrots once they are cooked and set aside. Strain the broth using a large fine-mesh strainer.
Return the broth to the pot and let it settle for about 8-10 minutes, remove the fat that rises to the surface using a large spoon. Turn the heat on low to warm up and check to see if the broth needs more salt to your taste. When ready to serve, place some cooked rice (if using) in a medium-size bowl, a serving of shredded chicken, carrots, and stir in the warm broth. Let everyone garnish their own soup.
Chef Abraham’s favorite garnishes:
- 1 avocado diced
- 1/2 white onion finely chopped
- 1 lime cut in wedges
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper minced
- 1/4 cup Cilantro chopped
- Cooked white rice optional
- Warm corn tortillas
Just because we can’t enjoy dining out at our favorite restaurants right now doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy delicious, restaurant-style food at home. Just take a cue from these well-respected North Texas chefs. And if you like the recipes, be sure to swing by and thank the Chefs once restaurants are once again open for dine-in.
Remember, now is an opportune time to get inspired, try something new, and expand your culinary skills. So grab the apron, open the pantry, ask the kids to help out, and enjoy some family cooking time! And if you’d like additional inspiration from celebrity chefs, this story is chock-full of ideas to keep you cooking for days!