Chicken Vegetable Soup, a hearty soup yes but actually more like a stufato or stew of sorts. This is one of those dishes that you prepare on the weekend to reheat during the week; and who doesn’t want to come home after a long day and not think about dinner? Chicken Vegetable Soup is a chunky assortment of garden goodness with gratifying pieces of chicken, the kind of meal that really satisfies.
Soup recipes should be flexible, a guide of sorts; a little bit of this some of that. What is important with Chicken Vegetable Soup is the process and balance, not necessarily which vegetables you choose. This soup is a two day process, not because it it complex or time consuming but cooking the whole chicken and allowing it to cool overnight in the refrigerator makes for a wonderfully flavorful chicken broth and a properly cooked bird.
A plump organic chicken, bay leaves, and fresh cool water are all that is needed for step one of the process. Once the pot comes to a boil, skim off any residue, lower the heat and cover with a parchment circle for 1 1/2 hours.
The choice of vegetables is an expression of personal taste, whatever you decide to choose cut the firmer vegetables into large chunks on a diagonal. Tuscan Kale also know as Lacinato Kale or Cavalo Nero is wonderfully deep in color with the most amazing texture. San Marzano tomatoes provide the rich tomato base which ties all of the flavors and textures together.
Acini de Pepi is without a doubt my pasta of choice for Chicken Vegetable Soup. The round little “grains of pepper” hold up well when the soup is reheated during the week.
The most difficult part of preparing Chicken Vegetable Soup is the shopping; if that’s a strain, these days there are numerous delivery services who will drop your groceries off at your doorstop. Start with the chicken on Saturday and finish off the soup on Sunday to either take to lunch or serve for dinner during the week.
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- 1 whole organic chicken, 3½ to 4 pounds
- 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
- 1 bunch of carrots, cleaned, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks on the diagonal
- 3 stalks of celery, cleaned and cut into 2 inch chunks on the diagonal
- 1 leek, cleaned of sand and thinly sliced
- 1 cup of dried beans of you choice (cannellini or garbanzo are excellent choices) soaked and cooked until tender or two 15 ounce cans of beans drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch of Tuscan Kale also know as Lacinato Kale. Remove any thick center pieces and cut into 1 inch ribbons
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 28 ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1⅓ cup of Ancini de Pepi pasta cooked for only 5 minutes and drained
- Optional: olive oil, grated Parmigiano or grated Pecorino
- Select a stockpot for the chicken that will hold it snugly. Cut a round of parchment paper to use as an impromptu lid, set this aside. Truss the chicken tightly using butcher’s twine and place it into stockpot, fill with fresh water and add the two fresh bay leaves. Slowly bring the stockpot to a boil, skimming any foamy residue that may rise to the surface along the way. Once the pot has come to a boil and the residue has been skimmed, reduce the heat to a simmer. Directly cover the chicken and liquid with the round of parchment, simmer for an additional 1½ hours. Remove from the heat, cover the entire pot with the lid and set aside until it is cool enough to place in the refrigerator. Chill overnight.
- The next day start the soup base by having the the vegetables cut, the beans and pasta ready and the tomato can opened.
- As the vegetable base is cooking, begin to defat and debone the refrigerated chicken. Using a large spoon, skim off any solidified chicken fat from the broth (let’s be honest, we know it’s delicious but those days are over). Carefully removed the chilled cooked chicken from the pot being sure that any of the broth drains back into the stockpot to add to the soup base. Place the chicken on a large cutting board; if you have a deep sink this is the perfect spot to place the cutting board. Cut the trussing string and begin to remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Pull or cut the meat from the bones and cut into large irregular pieces, set aside to add the the soup.
- Heat the ⅓ cup of olive oil in a large heavy duty stockpot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook the onions until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes depending upon your pan. Add the carrot, celery and leeks; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine. Cook the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the can of San Marzano tomatoes to the vegetables, breaking up the whole tomatoes into irregular pieces with a wooden spoon. Simmer the vegetable mixture for about 15 minutes; you will notice that the oil will begin to separate at the top of the tomato base and the mixture will have reduced somewhat. Add all of the chicken broth from the cooked chicken. If you are using reconstituted dry beans, add the beans and their liquid to the vegetable base and cook for an additional 5 minutes. If using drained and rinsed canned beans, add them at this point cooking for 3 minutes. You may remove the pot from the heat at this point, the soup is ready for the chicken and partially cooked Ancini Pepi.
- Add the chicken pieces to the vegetable base of the soup and heat for 5 minutes, follow with the partially cooked Ancini de Pepi and heat for an additional 5 minutes. The soup is ready to serve and may be garnished with a drizzle of olive oil, grated Parmigiano, or grated Pecorino.