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Minestrone with Smoked Chicken

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

A colorful and seasonal minestrone can be made with a combination of your favorite vegetables and cooked beans throughout the year. This main-course dish is hearty but not heavy. The pesto should not be stirred in as the soup is eaten, or the soup will become cloudy.

Serves6 to 8

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecheesy, herby, nutty, savory, smoky

Type of Dishchicken soup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, white only, split vertically and sliced
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
  • 4 ounces smoked chicken or turkey breast, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed of leaves and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 4 leaves) white Swiss chard, cut into strips
  • ½ small Savoy cabbage, or ½ small green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium zucchini, vertically quartered and cut into slices
  • 1 16-ounce can Italian-style plum tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 cup canned cannellini or other white beans, plus 1/3 cup bean liquid
  • ¼ pound fresh or frozen and thawed green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4-5 cups Basic Chicken Broth
  • 1/3 cup orzo, pastina, or other small pasta
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup Pesto
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, leek, and parsley and sauté until the onions are wilted, about 10 minutes.

  2. Add half of the chicken, then the celery and carrots. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the Swiss chard and cabbage. Cook, stirring, until the Swiss chard and cabbage lose volume, about 5 minutes. Add the potato, zucchini, tomatoes, cannellini beans and liquid, green beans, and broth. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 30 to 35 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, cook the orzo about 8 to 10 minutes, or just until tender, then drain. (If holding the pasta aside, toss with a little oil to keep it from sticking together.) Five minutes before the soup is finished, stir the orzo and remaining chicken into the soup.

  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This is a thick soup, but it can be thinned with additional broth if desired.

  6. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top with a dollop of Pesto. Serve with grated cheese on the side.

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