Chicken Minestrone Soup Recipe

Chicken Minestrone Soup Recipe Recipe

One way to guarantee flavorful minestrone soup is to use pre-roasted chicken and chicken broth. Once you have these ready, making minestrone soup is very easy. For this winter version, I added common vegetables that are available this season, such as onions, celery, turnip and carrots. A few herbs, as well as black lentils and pipette macaroni pasta completed this rustic, thick soup. 

I don't know about your area, but we've been pulling out all our cold-weather gear. In the Bay Area this evening, temperatures dipped to near freezing; I could barely feel my nose and ears. Baby Aria was so cute in her cozy, quilted snowsuit. When we came home, this chicken minestrone soup really warmed us up.  

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

2¼ to 2½ quarts water
2 quarts chicken stock
2 pounds chicken breasts, with skin on
1 tablespoon papaya paste (see tips)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup dried black lentils
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cups cooked pipette macaroni pasta
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¼ cup fresh basil, tightly packed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoons black pepper, freshly cracked


Directions

The day before...

Roasting chicken:

Clean the chicken thoroughly, leaving the skin on. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.

Season the chicken with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Mix the garlic, papaya paste, cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons oil and baking powder; be sure they're well incorporated. Coat the chicken with the mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. You can marinate the chicken up to 2 nights.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes ahead of time to bring it back to room temperature before placing in the oven. Place the chicken breasts, skin side up on a large tray. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. 

Cover with a loose sheet of aluminum foil. Roast for 10 min, reduce the temperature to 350°F and remove the foil. Continue roasting for 35 minutes. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before tearing the meat into chunks.

Prepping the lentils: Wash the grains, discarding any that are floating or odd-shaped. Wash and rinse thoroughly in several water baths (about three times). No soaking time is required. 

For the broth:

Heat olive oil in a pot. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook until shiny without coloration. Add the lentils. The oil should coat all the grains. Add turnip, carrots, celery and tomato paste. Add the chicken stock, then complete with water until they're completely covered. There should be at least a 2-inch-high level of water.

Bring to a boil. 

Cook for 30 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, regularly skim the impurities rising to the surface of the broth. Once the broth is cleared of any impurities, add salt. Bring to a roaring boil and cook for about 30 minutes, until the broth is reduced by ⅓.

Check the seasoning. Season with more salt (if necessary) and pepper. 

Assembly: 

Tear and shred the chicken into large chunks, discarding the skin. 

Bring the soup back to a simmer. Add the cooked chicken, basil and Parmesan cheese. Cook for another 10 minutes on low. Adjust seasoning, then add the cooked pasta. Stir well.

Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I purposely do not salt the broth at the beginning but wait to add salt until the lentils are fully cooked and become starchy.

The natural sweetness from the carrots, turnip, onions and tomato paste eliminates the need to add sugar to the broth.

Little reminder on how to make papaya paste (meat tenderizer): Peel a green papaya. Grind the cubed papaya with seeds in a blender; place about 1 tablespoon of papaya paste per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer.

For the pasta: Bring about 1 quart of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a full boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook the pasta for about 6-8 minutes total. Salt the water half way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and it will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so that it doesn't stick to the bottom. Drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Set aside in a large fine-mesh strainer until the broth is ready.

Tearing and shredding large chicken pieces gives a rustic look to the soup.

The lentils help thicken the soup. Coating the individual grains of lentils in oil prevents them from sticking to one another.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on December 5, 2013.


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