I’m not Italian. Not even a little bit. But I adore Italian cuisine, from the most basic, fresh primavera to the most decadent, creamy sauces. I could eat pasta on a daily basis and never tire of it. The herbs, the spices, everything they serve in an Italian restaurant or in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen, I love.
I’m so un-Italian by heritage, though, that I am hesitant to call the soup I put together today “Italian Chicken Soup.” I’m sure some real Italian cook would pounce and say “You’re doing it the wrong way!” ;) So today’s recipe, inspired by the rain (which always makes me want soup) and my love of Italian food, will simply be called
Spicy chicken-radiatore soup
- 4-5 chicken thighs or other available cuts
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 small-medium onion, papery skin removed and cut in half
- 1 bay leaf
Make a chicken stock by boiling the above ingredients for 10 minutes, then reducing to simmer. Simmer gently for an hour, if possible.
Remove chicken, set aside in bowl, and strain broth.
(Alternatively, you may use a quart of store-bought chicken broth and a rotisserie chicken)
- one quart hot water
- 4-5 chopped Roma tomatoes or one 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 2 TBS dried parsley
- 2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 15 oz. can Great Northern beans or canellini beans, drained
- 8 oz dried radiatore pasta, cooked according to package directions. Stir in 2 tsp olive oil to keep cooked, drained pasta from sticking together until you need it. (substitute rotini if radiatore not available)
Shred chicken with your hands or chop with a knife; set aside in bowl.
Add to the quart of chicken broth a quart of hot water, the tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper, garlic, shredded carrots and chopped tomatoes. Chop more celery and add to the broth, as well, if you didn’t make your own broth; it will add more flavor, as will 1/2 tsp celery seed (if you have no fresh celery) and a chopped onion.
Bring all to a simmer; simmer for ten minutes.
Add the can of Great Northern or canellini beans and chicken. Simmer for five more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the cooked, drained pasta to the soup. Allow to simmer gently for another five or ten minutes, until veggies are tender.
Taste for flavor; add salt if needed.
Serve topped with a sprinkling of parsley flakes and grated Parmesan cheese, and add some garlic bread on the side for a nice, comforting meal on a cool evening.
Tips: The carrots were those I bought earlier in the week for the Chinese food I made; no need to waste! I kept them in a ziploc bag in the produce drawer until I made this soup.
Also, if you want to add more flavor, feel free to use a tsp or two or Mrs. Dash or Tone Chachere’s seasoning, or whatever you have on hand. Just be careful that you account for the salt in whatever seasoning you might add, so you don’t ruin your broth.
Did you know that if you DO oversalt soup, you can add a peeled raw potato, cut in half, and let it cook in the soup? Potatoes absorb some of the salt.
If you don’t want to add all the meat from a whole rotisserie chicken to the soup, save some of it for making chicken salad during the week, or whatever else you’d like to make. I used the meat from five chicken thighs, which amounted to about 1 1/2 cups cooked meat.
Add more broth or hot water as needed, especially when reheating. The pasta will absorb much of the liquid as it rests.
This is a good, hearty, home-style soup that I hope you’ll feel free to tweak to your family’s liking. I’d suggest serving it when someone has a cold, as garlic has anit-viral properties, and the red pepper flakes’ heat will help open sinuses. Something about chicken soup really helps a sick person feel better!
Copyright 2012 Stephanie Hill-Frazier. All rights reserved.