Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Warm up with soup

It’s most certainly soup weather in these parts! And I’m guessing many cooks have had their soup pots out in recent weeks.

We have a number of favorite soup recipes at my house, but I’m always looking for new ones as well.

This winter, I’ve noticed a bunch of recipes for Italian soups on my favorite blogs, so I decided to try one.

I didn’t use one particular recipe. Instead, I read a bunch of recipes, then added ingredients I either had in my refrigerator or knew I’d use later. (I hate buying celery and using two ribs before the whole stack turns brown and gross; I bought it for this soup and will use it in other recipes in coming days.)

The main ingredients for this new soup are the same ones I use in my standby recipes for homemade soup: chicken and broth, tomatoes and onions. But some of the other ingredients are new for me with soup, including zucchini and bell pepper. I also added oregano, which gave it the flavor I desired, and ditalini. I love this little pasta, especially in soups. I opted to cook the ditalini separately and added it to the hot soup I poured into our bowls. That way the pasta keeps its shape and firmness and doesn’t get mushy after sitting in the soup or being warmed up.

I considered adding several other ingredients to the soup when I was shopping and might do that sometime, including spinach and cannellini beans. But I was trying to be thrifty!

I used homemade broth for this soup. I had cooked a chicken Saturday for tetrazzini and had plenty of leftover broth. I only had 11⁄2 cups of chicken and would have used more for the soup if it had been available. If you don’t have homemade broth, use canned, low-sodium broth.

I let my soup simmer for about an hour and loved the way my house smelled! I made the soup Monday evening, planning to eat it for lunches this week, but Reggie and I “sampled” it with our dinner and really enjoyed it. I especially liked the flavor a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese added!

Be creative when you make this soup, or any soup. Add some frozen green beans or dice some carrots. If you like garlic in your soup, add some toward the end of the recipe’s sauteeing time. I would have loved adding fresh basil, but I didn’t have any. Rosemary or thyme would also be good add-ins.

Serve this soup with hot, crunchy bread for a wonderful winter meal.

Soup With An Italian Twist
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes
  • Olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup zucchini, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • Bell pepper, chopped (a few tablespoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano or to taste
  • Ditalini or other small pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • Parmesan cheese
Pour chicken broth, chicken and tomatoes in large soup pot and start to heat.

While broth is heating, sautee zucchini, onions, celery and bell pepper until vegetables start to get tender. Pour into soup pot along with seasonings. Let come to boil, then reduce heat and simmer about an hour.

Meanwhile, cook ditalini and drain. Add some pasta to individual bowls and pour soup on top. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

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