Sunday, December 2

Comforting Chicken Soup

I'm pretty into soup.  And this simple chicken soup is one of my all time favorites. It's easy. It's economical. It's versatile and above all, it's delicious. This is what you want to eat when that sore throat is creeping up on you, when the days are too short and the nights are crisp.
Start with the basics. Chopped onions, celery and carrots. Then build from there in any direction you choose. If you happen to have any other vegetables handy, like zucchini or squash, toss those in too. The most important thing to remember about homemade soup is that you have to add flavor. And the best way to do that is with lots of herbs, salt and pepper.
I always put a bay leaf in my soup, something I saw my mother do so many times when I was young. I also like to put whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme, you'll find tiny bare branches floating around later, make it a game to see who gets the stems.
Another great flavor addition is a can of white or cannelini beans. Drain the beans, pour half the can into the soup and mash the other half to add a nice creamy thickness to your broth.
At the end of cooking, I like to add a hearty leaf vegetable like kale or swiss chard, it's a healthy alternative to noodles and it tastes amazing!
Whether you choose to use homemade chicken stock or boxed stock doesn't matter, just be sure that it if you do buy it, it's high quality and low in sodium. You need to be in charge of the salt levels. You can also choose to use a raw chicken breast, that will cook directly in the soup, or pre-cooked, shredded chicken (such as a rotisserie chicken from the market). Either way, this soup will seriously satisfy you're whole family and last a while too! I make a pot for my husband and I for two nights of dinner, and you could certainly double this recipe to serve a crowd.
Sprinkle each bowl with a bit of parmesan cheese and dig in.

Comforting Chicken Soup

1 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme
1 bay leaf
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
5 C chicken stock or broth
1  14 oz can white or cannelini beans, drained and split in half
3 or 4 leaves kale or swiss chard, chopped
Cooked rotisserie chicken, chopped, or one large raw chicken breast
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrots, celery and zucchini. Brown the vegetables until they begin to become translucent, about 6-7 min. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. Add the herbs, bay leaf and salt and pepper followed by the can of tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. At this point, if you are using raw chicken, drop it into the boiling broth and cook for about 8-10 min. Remove the cooked chicken breast and dice it up, then continue with the next steps.

Bring the soup to a simmer, add half the can of drained beans. Mash the remaining beans in the can with a fork until they resemble a paste. Add the mashed beans to the pot. If you are using cooked chicken, add it to the broth at this point. Gently fold the kale into the soup, shut off the heat and cover the pot to allow the greens to wilt down, about 3-4 minutes. Season again to taste, if necessary.


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