Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy Chicken Minestrone

A fabulous soup perfect in this cold weather with the flu bug going around.
I can't bring myself to trust this flu shot pushed on us the past few winters, so I'll just make sure my body is stocked up on natural bug-fighting foods.
This soup thickens fast, so the next day it makes a great casserole.  Just add mozzarella, parmesan, and maybe ricotta cheese, toss in the oven until hot, and you have an awesome dinner in no time. Perfect after a busy day.

You'll need:

olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb), cubed
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 fat carrot, chopped
chop the top part of a celery bunch, including the leafy tops, about 1 cup's worth
2 fat garlic cloves, grated
1 (28 oz)can whole peeled tomatoes, with juice, chopped, if desired. (I open the can, and leaving the tomatoes in the can, insert kitchen scissors and chop away for a few seconds until they're the size I like. Easy,  no fuss)
1 (15 oz) can  tomato sauce or puree
1 Tablespoon  tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2  tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1  dried bay  leaf
kosher salt
4 cups chicken broth
1 (15  oz) can drained rinsed cannellini  beans  (or  any white  bean)
1/2 cup ditalini  pasta, or any other small pasta like elbow  or  bowtie
12 oz fresh spinach
fresh parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish

In a large pot, or dutch oven, brown chicken over medium-high heat in olive oil with desired amount of salt and pepper.   Brown it quickly on one side, so not to cook the chicken all the way through or it will become overcooked in the minestrone.

Add onion, carrot, celery, grate in the garlic and add pinch of salt and pepper.

When carrots begin to soften, add tomato paste, oregano, basil, marjoram, and bay leaf, stir to blend in tomato paste.
Add tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, chicken broth and  beans.

Turn heat up and add salt and  pepper to taste.
When stew begins to boil, turn heat back down to a simmer and stir in pasta. Continue to stir until pasta stops sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente.

Remove from heat, fish out bay leaf  (or just warn everyone not to eat it if they find it, like I do- haha) and add spinach, stirring until spinach is wilted. Serve with parmesan cheese and garlic bread!

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