Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Italian Chicken Soup with Kale Pesto

As you may guessed, based on yet another soup post, it's still cold and rainy here in Cali.  (Okay, if you're from the Midwest or Northeast, you're probably wanting to slap me, but it is cold for here!)

Red Russian kale was staring at me from my veggie drawer and the questions were starting about dinner. 

To improv the flavors of sausage, dried Italian herbs and fennel seeds came to the rescue in flavoring the typically boring chicken breast.   Besides the usual carrots, onions and celery I added white beans to bump up the protein and fiber of the soup.  This is where it took a decidedly Italian turn, the kale rather than going in by itself, became a condiment at the table.  Replacing basil, which is not in season, with kale I made a pesto to be swirled in like you would swirl in pesto to a minestrone or pistou to a Pistou (It is both the name of the soup and the name of the condiment, both referring to the Southern French version of pesto made without nuts or cheese.)  If you want the recipe for the pesto (Winter Pesto is my official recipe name) as well as other condiments, rubs and marinades, download my Rock Star in the Kitchen collection here otherwise, simply make your favorite pesto recipe subbing kale or chard for the basil.

CWYG Stats
Veggie Box - Red Russian kale, carrots
CWYG Items - onions, garlic, celery, chicken, white beans, chicken broth, walnuts, lemon, parmesan

Italian Chicken Soup with Kale Pesto
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes or short strips
1 tbsp Italian herb blend or 1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano and rosemary
1 tsp fennel seeds lightly crushed in mortal and pestel or mini food processor
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 can white beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups if you have made your own)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Kale Pesto

 Season the chicken with herbs, fennel and salt.  Rub it in good and let it stand for a few minutes.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the chicken and brown well.  Remove and set aside.  Add the carrots, celery and onion and reduce heat to medium.  Saute until softened slightly then add back the chicken, white beans and chicken broth.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are softer but still have a bit of crunch.

Serve each portion with a big dollop of pesto and a little extra cheese.  This is great with crusty bread and a glass of Sangiovese or Pinot Grigio.

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