Tomato-Vegetable Chicken Soup

I found this recipe on the back of a can of tomatoes years ago and, because I make my own chicken noodle soup which is very classic and simple, I thought hmmm how would THAT taste? I like dark meat and economize by buying a 10-pound bag of thighs and legs for $5-$6, remove the skin, clean well, and cook in very large soup pot with water covering them for about an hour. Remove the parts and cool. Then add chicken bouillon paste from a jar, maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup depending on how big your pot is, but start out with less and check for taste so it doesn’t get too salty. Also add about 1-1/2 to 2 cups rice (I use brown) and cook til tender.

Meanwhile, heat some canola or other vegetable oil into a large frying pan and dice in an onion, celery (amount to your desire), and a green pepper unless your family doesn’t like it. Add garlic, also to your taste (I use it from a jar already chopped, about 2 T). Saute these until vegetables are soft. Then add some dried or fresh thyme leaves (I use about 1 T) and mix well. Finally, add a large can (about 28 ounces) of ‘crushed’ tomatoes and cook this together over low heat about 15 minutes. Then put this mixture into the chicken broth when the rice is soft, stir well. When chicken is cooled enough to handle, carefully take it off the bones and cut into pieces into the soup, being careful not to include anything that is not meat. Let the flavors all blend together for awhile as it tastes MUCH better later and even more so the next day. Of course, you can use other precooked chicken if you don’t want to fuss with the chicken this much, but this is most cost-efficient. I have an extra refrigerator to put this in large jars or other containers, as this makes quite a large amount. The family all love it. You can put all the chicken into the soup if you want, or save some for other dishes.