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Sunday Food: Chicken and Spinach Soup

Chicken stock simmering.

When the weather turns cold, I crave hot soups, and while there are a lot of prepared kinds that I am happy just to heat up, every now and then a fresh home-made variety calls out for your time and trouble. This one struck me as quite a fine way to spend a little kitchen prep time.

Recipe after the jump

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Sunday Food: Chicken and Spinach Soup

 

Chicken stock simmering.

(Picture  courtesy of Miss Anna Lynn Martino at flickr.com.)

When the weather turns cold, I crave hot soups, and while there are a lot of prepared kinds that I am happy just to heat up, every now and then a fresh home-made variety calls out for your time and trouble. This one struck me as quite a fine way to spend a little kitchen prep time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup carrot or diced red bell pepper
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish (optional)

 

PREPARATION

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrot (or bell pepper) and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  3. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.

When the aroma of soup spreads through the house, it seems to warm us up right then, at the beginning. The feeling of the soup going down can’t be beat, either. I like piping hot, myself.

In the season of colds and flu, chicken soup is always a good plan, and if you make a huge stock now and freeze it or put it up, when you do get sick you’ll have comfort on hand without the preparation time.   Planning ahead for bad times makes them go a little better.

As I will be away from the computer today, please carry on without me, and do enjoy this or your own favorite soup.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.