Friday, December 9, 2011

Soup for Supper - Italian Chicken Soup

Last night was our annual holiday potluck for one of my gardening groups -- Northwest Perennial Alliance.  We get together for some holiday cheer and make wreaths.  Several of us have wreath-making machines, one of the best birthday gifts I ever talked my husband into giving me!  I've had so much fun with it over the years.  If he had known the amount of greenery I'd strew all over the porch and deck for the entire month of December, I'm sure he never would have bought it.  Or that after every storm, I'd be out there driving around looking for downed branches, which I then bring home and strew all over the porch and deck.  I need a bumper sticker that says, "I brake for pine boughs."  Every year he says, "Can we not have so many branches this year?"  But then I see a little fir tip laying there looking so perfect I just have to pick it up and drag it home.  It's a sickness, I know.  One year a friend and I drove around looking for lichen-covered twigs, which are a particular favorite of mine (and hers).  I'm ashamed to say (ok, not really ashamed at all) that we went onto some private property and cut some.  One of these days my shenanigans are going to land me in the pokey.  I wonder if they'll let me decorate with wreaths during the holidays...

 Anyway, back to the food part of this story, I decided to make soup and eggnog as my contribution to the evening.  I wasn't in the mood for any of my usual soups, so I went in search of something new on the web and found one on Pioneer Woman's site for Italian Chicken Soup.  I had to change up a few things.  One of her ingredients was a can of whole tomatoes.  You are supposed to take the tomatoes and dice them, then return them to their juice.  Helloooo, do they not have diced tomatoes in your neck of the woods, Ree?  Being limited in time this week, I simpified the recipe a teensy bit.  It turned out delicious.

For the eggnog, I had planned on just buying cartons of eggnog, dumping them in the punch bowl and adding booze and grated nutmeg.  Like I said, limited time this week.  I was looking around to see what kind of booze to dump in and how much when I came upon this recipe that seemed easy enough. So I made some of that just to try it out.  It was really good and quite easy.  Definitely a keeper recipe.

Sorry, no photos of the food for this one.  Did I mention I was super swamped?

In-A-Hurry Italian Chicken Soup
1 box Detalini Pasta (very short macaroni-type pasta)
2 T olive oil, divided
1 whole cut up cooked chicken or the equivalent (I cooked up some breasts and used that), shredded
8 cups chicken broth
1 medium onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 stealks celery, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 T olive oil
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream
4 T minced fresh oregano (or the equivalent dried)
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese shavings for garnish

Cook the pasta according the package directions.  The timing on the pasta package is usually very accurate.  Drain it, toss in 1 T olive oil, and set it aside.

In a very large pot (everything has to fit) and using about 1 T olive oil, sautee the onions, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos over medium heat until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Add in the oregano and cook for just a minute or so more, stirring.

Add in the chicken broth, shredded chicken, and diced tomatoes.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Add in the cooked pasta and cream and drizzle with a small amount of EVOO.  Serve with the parmesan on top.

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