Kitchen Mailbox: Hearty soup warms up fall meals

Tired of the usual slow-cooker recipes? (You know the ones, where you plop a piece of meat in the slow cooker then add a can of soup and a few spices.) Well, here's one that is a real treat -- a spicy, hearty dish made with a variety of vegetables, chicken and spices. The spices are the key.

The vegetables listed here are just a guideline. You can use about 4 cups of almost any hardy vegetables you have on hand, such as sweet potatoes, bell peppers, turnips, rutabagas or leeks.


Ben Avon's Nancy Fardo writes: "Does anyone have a recipe for the mac 'n' cheese served at the former Paragon restaurant?"



PG tested

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon salt

¾ pound butternut squash, peeled, seeds and strings discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

1 medium red potato, halved, then each half quartered

1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

1 small onion, cut into thin wedges

½ medium fresh jalapeno, seeds and ribs discarded, minced

2 medium garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 medium lime, quartered

6 sprigs of fresh cilantro

3-pound chicken, skin, fat and giblets discarded

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, pepper and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the squash, potato, carrot, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Add ¾ teaspoon of the cumin mixture, stirring to coat. Set the remaining cumin mixture aside. Transfer squash mixture to the slow cooker. Pour in the broth.

Place the lime quarters and sprigs of cilantro in the cavity of the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining cumin mixture all over the chicken. Using your fingertips, gently press the mixture so it adheres to the chicken. Place chicken on the squash mixture. Cook, covered, on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high 5 to 6 hours, or until the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer chicken to cutting board, leaving the squash mixture and liquid in the crock. Let the chicken stand for 15 minutes so the juices can redistribute. (The chicken will cook a little more during the standing time.)

Add lime juice and snipped cilantro to the slow cooker, stirring to combine.

Carve chicken into slices. Transfer to soup bowls. Spoon the squash mixture and broth around the chicken.

— “Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook” by the American Heart Association (2012, $16.99)

To request a recipe or send a recipe or question to Kitchen Mailbox, write the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222 or


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