14. Chicken soup for the utterly exhausted soul

It's Camp Fire candy sales time again, which means the boys and Jim and I are doing an awful lot of standing around in grocery store atriums (atria?) asking strangers "Hello, would you like to help support Camp Fire?" And because I sort of accidentally volunteered to be our group's candy captain* again this year, that means I'm spending even more hours than the average hapless Camp Fire parent counting money, schlepping boxes, reading ingredients (yes! five out of six of our candy offerings are gluten free!) and generally spending more time thinking about candy than seems really necessary.

Tonight was the first night of our second weekend of sales. So in between wrangling reluctant little salespeople ("K., you need to stop sitting down on the floor. Let's do our best to remain vertical. Fisher, take your hands out of your pockets and stop scowling at people. Smiles sell candy, scowls don't."), loading and unloading candy and tables and banners and accoutrements in and out of the car, squelching your annoyance at people who are rude to your kids**, driving squintingly through the rain (did I mention I don't drive at night? or in the rain? or on the freeway? or, hell, ever, if I have the choice?)… yeah, I was almost too tired to make soup tonight.

"Almost" being the key word. Total prep time on this soup is about ten minutes, and then you have twenty minutes of simmering time during which to tidy the kitchen or make some guacamole or chug a beer or pop a Vicodin or whatever.*** And it smells good enough while cooking that it fills your heart with hope… hope that someday soon candy sales will be over. For another year, at least. And next year you're going to pass the candy captain torch on to some other foolio.

More or Less Mexican-Style Chicken Soup
Serves six, roughly, or thereabouts… I'm too damn tired to measure

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 fresh green chile (Anaheim or ancho) or 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded/stemmed/minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chile (or chili, whatever you've got) powder
A couple pinches of salt
Several grindings of black pepper
4 to 6 cups chicken broth (or part broth and part water), depending on how thick you want the soup
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1" cubes
1/4 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Crumbled or shredded queso fresco (or feta) or Jack cheese, for serving

Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Add onion and chile and cook, stirring frequently, until onion softens (about 3 minutes). Add cumin, chili/chile powder, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 more minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute more.

Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth, chicken thighs and rice. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in cilantro and serve with cheese on top. Mmm, delicious cheese. You will start to feel better almost immediately.

* You would think that for a position as thankless as this, I'd at least get a captain's hat. Where the hell is my captain's hat? With a cunning little anchor on the front?

** Observation from a candy-hawking mom: no one who looks like a hipster has ever bought anything from a child, ever. Apparently the ability to remember your none-too-long-ago days of shilling Camp Fire candy or Girl Scout Cookies or whatever completely vanishes when you turn 18 and doesn't return until you have kids of your own (whom you are probably having to help sell Camp Fire candy or Girl Scout cookies or whatever). It may have something to do with the skinny jeans cutting off circulation to the heart. Or maybe the ironic mustaches. Or the deep-rooted fear of losing one's street cred by being seen buying CANDY from a CHILD. Whatever street cred one can possibly have intact when one is leaving the Fred Meyer with a DiGiornio pizza under one's arm at 6 p.m. on a Friday night, anyway.

*** Two of which I did tonight. You guess which two. *sigh*


About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
This entry was posted in Recipes, Soup 365 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 14. Chicken soup for the utterly exhausted soul

  1. Evonne says:

    I would like some of that candy!

  2. Jane says:

    In defense of hipsters, they were the ones tipping Dex the big bucks the day he decided to try busking. Picture him about seven years old, belting out “I’m a Little Teapot” (with appropriate moves) at the top of lungs to a bunch of ironically-mustachioed smoke’n’slouchers. There, don’t you feel better now?

  3. Molly says:

    Jane, we will have to bust out a rendition of “I’m a Little Teapot” next time we’re doing sales. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  4. Molly says:

    Evonne, you know where to find me… and the mint patties are actually quite lovely.

  5. I’m still trying to guess son the 2 things you did. I am assuming licking homemade guac. off your fingers (ala facebook status) means you made guacamole. My guess for the other activity is sketchy. 🙂
    I say you use social media to get to those hipsters. Put up a sign that says ‘TEXT ### to donate to Camp Fire kids!’ You’d be the highest earner for sure!

  6. Molly says:

    Sadly, April, the other thing I did was tidy the kitchen. Oh, my exciting life.
    Love the text donation idea. Wonder how hard it is to set up something like that?

  7. Laura says:

    I want some mint patties!!

  8. Ami says:

    Every time I see a kid selling… Camp Fire candy, Girl Scout cookies, Cub/Boy Scout popcorn, I donate to their group. A buck every time. I don’t know how much Campfire gets to keep from the stuff they sell, but Girl Scouts only get sixty cents from a $3.50 box of cookies.
    So if I see you in the store (not likely, I’m waaaay out in East County) I’ll donate.
    Do NOT need the candy.

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