Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Italian Chicken Soup

    If you haven't noticed, I'm kind-of in love with soup. Once the weather gets colder, I make soup at least once a week. I have several go-to recipes including vegetable beef soup, white bean chicken chili, pea soup, taco soup, black bean soup, and probably several others that I am forgetting. One of my newest favorites is this recipe for Italian Chicken Soup. It is originally from Pioneer Woman Cooks, but I have made some alterations to it that make it that much better and healthier (seriously Pioneer Woman, what's with all the heavy cream?) I also refer to it as "clean out the vegetable drawer" soup. Here are the directions for the soup. I added the ingredients list at the bottom for those of you who may want to try it.
    (Adapted from Pioneer Woman Cooks)
    To start, throw three bone-in skin-on chicken breasts into a pot of water on medium heat and bring it to a boil. Then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Afterwards, turn off the heat and leave the chicken in the water to cool. This makes for juicier chicken than if you immediately take it out of the water and shred it. Once it has cooled for a while, then you shred it and discard the skin, bones, etc. I also pour out the water the chicken cooked in. Pioneer Woman uses it as the broth for her soup, but trying to skim off all the fat is a pain to me so I just use store-bought broth.
    Next, finely chop some oregano (about four or five tablespoons).
      To bring out the oregano's flavor, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saute pan. Once it is hot, turn off the heat and add the oregano, stirring for about a minute. Then set that aside.
     Meanwhile, boil some water and cook about half a pound of ditalini pasta. Once it is done, drain it, rinse it, and drizzle on a little olive oil. Set it aside until later.
     Then it is time to chop the vegetables. I used an onion, a green bell pepper, three stalks of celery, and two jalapenos. This is where you can add whatever you think will taste good or whatever is currently in your veggie drawer in the fridge. You could try other colors of peppers or maybe some squash or zucchini. The possibilities are endless. Also, feel free to omit what you don't like.
     I also chopped up a couple carrots. I then cooked them in the microwave in some of the chicken broth for the soup to make sure they would be soft.
    Throw all the vegetables, except the carrots, into a big pot with some olive oil and saute them for 8-10 minutes until they start to get soft and even brown a little.
      Next, add two cartons of chicken broth, the carrots and the broth they were cooked in, and the shredded chicken. I also added a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes and a drained and rinsed can of kidney beans. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat and let it simmer.
    To add even more vegetables, I chop about two or three cups of spinach and add that in to the soup to wilt. 
     Once the spinach has wilted, add a cup of heavy cream, oregano, and pasta to the soup. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes and then turn off the heat.
And there you have it. Yummy!
Three bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
Two 32 oz. cartons of chicken broth
One bunch of oregano
Olive oil
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
Half a box of ditalini pasta (.5 pounds)
One chopped onion
One chopped green bell pepper
Three stalks of celery, chopped
Two carrots, chopped
Two jalapenos, diced
2 or 3 cups of roughly chopped spinach
1 cup of heavy cream

Cook half the box of pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

Place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven and cover in water. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken, covered, for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred meat. Discard bones and water and set meat aside.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add oregano and turn off heat, stirring for a minute to keep oregano from burning. Set this aside.

In a large pot, saute onion, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cook chopped carrot in some chicken broth in the microwave until tender. 
To the large pot of vegetables, add chicken broth, carrots and broth they were cooked in, shredded chicken, kidney beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add chopped spinach and allow to wilt. Add cooked pasta, cream, and all the oregano and olive oil from the small skillet. Stir to combine. Turn off heat.

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