Each bowl of this chicken vegetable soup provides a hearty mix of lean protein and assorted produce in a tomato-flavored stock. Plus, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.
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When you require a comforting one-pot dish, this soup hits the spot. I often make this when I have extra chicken and veggies in the refrigerator. It’s the perfect way to use up ingredients, so nothing goes to waste. Make a large pot to enjoy on the weekend, prepare it in advance for the week, or freeze individual portions for a quick meal.
To infuse more flavor, I sear the chicken breasts before simmering in the stock. I like to use a mixture of colorful produce to add color and nutrients to each spoonful. Using canned tomatoes instantly adds a hint of sweet and acidic notes to balance the taste. It’s similar to Italian minestrone– but with extra protein, and no pasta or beans.
Add flavor by browning the meat
Going the extra mile to brown the surface of the chicken breast creates an additional layer of flavor. The process only takes a few minutes to sear the meat in hot olive oil. The chicken will finish cooking when simmering in the stock. Therefore you don’t have to worry about it being raw or drying out. You might notice some fond at the bottom of the pan. Those extra concentrated juices, dripping, and golden particles will make the soup even tastier.
Aromatics and herbs
Any good soup starts with sauteing a mixture of chopped onions, carrots, and celery (also known as mirepoix). This combination adds dimension and intense aromatics to the base.
Onions and minced garlic are sulfurous when raw. However, gently cooking them mellows out the spicy notes, creating savory and caramelized flavors in the soup. To bump up the herbaceous notes, I use dried Italian seasoning. I saute them in oil (as called blooming) to draw out the fat-soluble flavors in the concentrated herbs, for a more flavorful stock.
Canned tomatoes add instant flavor
I use two types of canned tomatoes– paste and diced. The paste has concentrated tomato solids, making it rich in umami and sweet taste. A small amount rapidly turns the chicken stock blush in color and adds a bright acidity to the soup. Diced tomatoes provide little bursts of fruit, making each bite more exciting and pronounced. It’s a nice switch up to the traditional chicken noodle soup.
Shred the chicken into pieces
Once the chicken thoroughly cooks, break it down by shredding it with a fork. Smaller pieces make it easy to fit on a spoon. Alternatively, you can chop the chicken into cubes if preferred. For convenience, leftover rotisserie chicken is an easy option to use for this recipe. You’ll need about 3 cups.
Use a variety of vegetables
The potatoes take the longest to soften. So I cut them into small chunks and let them simmer with the chicken. I use Yukon gold potatoes because the waxy texture holds its shape better than starchy Russets. I add the corn, green beans, zucchini, and mushrooms towards the end. They cook faster due to their high moisture levels, so they don’t require as much time.
The goal is to get all the veggies tender, keep them vibrant in appearance, and prevent them from becoming mushy. Therefore, timing and duration are essential. A layering technique works well to achieve all of these desired attributes.
What to serve this with
Using other types of chicken
Chicken thighs can be used if you like dark meat. Just monitor the cooking time. They are not as thick as the breast and will cook faster. Bone-in chicken with the skin-on also works well. The collagen from the connective tissue turns into gelatin, which provides richness and body, while the marrow adds extra flavor. Trim the excess fat to prevent the soup from becoming too greasy.
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Chicken Vegetable Soup
- 1 ½ pounds chicken breast, boneless and skinless
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup diced yellow onion, ½-inch dice
- 1 cup sliced celery, ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 cup sliced carrots, ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning, dried
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes, canned with juice
- 2 cups yukon gold potatoes, ½-inch cubes
- 64 ounces unsalted chicken stock, or broth, 8 cups
- 1 cup sliced zucchini, ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 cup sliced green beans, ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup sliced brown mushrooms, ½-inch thick slices
- 1 cup corn kernels, canned, frozen or fresh
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Generously season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken, sear until the surface lightly browns, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot. Once hot, add the onion, celery, and carrots. Saute and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly browned. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes, potatoes, chicken, and chicken stock to the pot. Bring the stock to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to a simmer over low heat. After 10 minutes, flip the chicken over and adjust heat as needed. Cover and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and remove the chicken from the pot. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into smaller pieces, then set aside.
- Add the zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, and corn. Bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat, stir and cook, 4 to 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.
- Add the shredded chicken back to the soup, stir to combine. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until chicken is warm and potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the soup hot, garnished with chopped parsley.
- Recipe Yield: 12 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Using Pre-Cooked Chicken: 3 cups of pre-cooked shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken can be substituted for the chicken breasts. Skip adding the chicken to the simmering step and cook the soup until the potatoes are tender. Simmer the remaining vegetables, then add in the shredded chicken until warmed through.
- For a Thinner Soup: Add 1 to 2 cups of chicken stock at the end of cooking.
- Storing and Reheating: Cool the soup thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Add more chicken stock if needed to thin out the soup.
- Freezing: Cool the soup to room temperature and then store in resealable plastic bags for up to 1 month. Defrost the soup, then reheat.
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