Aah chicken soup – a traditional cure for colds and flus, magical elixir for the downtrodden and good old-fashioned therapy for the weary soul. Though wonderfully healing when you’re sick, in essence, chicken soup can be rather dull and boring when you’re not! Perhaps my judgement has been clouded by all the bland packet chicken soups that I fed on when I was feeling under the weather as a child. Or those horrid tinned chicken and vegetable soups that usually sported a funky shade of green or yellow with miniscule shreds of chicken (or so they claimed to be) and the odd cube of potato… and peas. Oh how I hated the peas!
And then god invented fun shaped pasta…
But here is a chicken soup that I actually want to have when I’m not sick. And one where I wanted to devour all the chunky vegetables, which is a testament really, seeing as I’m more carnivore than herbivore. It’s perfect for a lazy or tired weeknight as it’s dead simple, cheap and cheerful to make and it ticks all the right boxes – meat, legumes, vegetables and starches. So if you’re one of those people who thinks soup isn’t a meal, rest assured that this is hearty and healthy enough to fill your stomach on its own.
As a homage to the inner child, you can never go past alphabet or star-shaped soup pasta. Sure you could use something a little more sophisticated such as tempesta or risoni but where is the joy in that?
Chicken Soup For The Soul
2 Tbl olive oil
250gm bacon or any cured pork product (smoked pork belly, speck, pancetta etc) – diced
3 brown onions – diced
1 carrot- peeled and diced
2 celery stalks – diced
4 chicken thigh fillets – diced into 2cm pieces
4 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 C dry white wine
4 C chicken stock
400g tinned crushed tomatoes
2 zucchinis – diced
400g tin of cannellini beans – rinsed and drained
1 C of small pasta – risoni, tempesta or soup pasta
50g baby spinach leaves – large stems removed
1-2 Tbl of chopped parsley or basil (whichever you fancy)
Over medium high heat, heat the oil and sauté the bacon for a couple of minutes until slightly coloured.
Add onions, carrots and celery and fry for about 10 minutes or until the veges have softened.
Add chicken and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is opaque.
Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom and let it simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce. Add the chicken stock and tinned tomatoes, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, stick on the lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and season to taste with salt, cracked black pepper and sugar (if you wish to counter the acidity of the tomatoes). Add the zucchinis, beans and pasta, mix and simmer with the lid on for about 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is al-dente.
Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach and herbs until wilted. Serve immediately with a hot crusty bread roll and a soul-friendly glass of wine.