Sunday, November 4, 2012
Minestra di Pollo
Minestra is the Italian word for a clear soup. Pollo is as most of us know, chicken. I happened to have some pre-baked chicken on hand. That made this even easier. Having baked chicken cubes already prepped makes soups and casseroles go together so easily. I make chicken cubes two different ways. The original way is simply to bake or poach chicken in bag batches. Let it cool, then dice it. I have also found that I like to grind chicken with some seasonings. Some of this mixture I make into patties, and some into small loaves. (think muffin size) These are great for lunch boxes and go well with lots of sauces for quick meals. My favorites are barbecue or honey mustard dipping sauces. Today, these little loaves got diced and put into this soup. Yum.
It is very Italian, filled with the flavor of fennel. I used the Hunts Tomatoes with Fennel and Red Pepper. I also added about a half teaspoon of fennel seeds. I will be the soup will be even better tomorrow.
Minestra di Pollo
2 tbsp olive oil
3 ribs celery
1/4 large onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 lb pre-baked chicken cubes
1 quart chicken broth
1 lb frozen cauliflower
2 - 14 oz cans diced tomatoes with fennel and red pepper, or plain plus 1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
2 oz Asiago cheese, shredded
Add olive oil to a soup pot or Dutch oven. Saute the celery, bell pepper and onion until soft. Add in the chicken, cubed, broth, cauliflower, and tomatoes. Stir in the spices: basil, garlic powder, onion powder, and fennel seeds. (add 1/2 tsp fennel seeds if using the Hunts specialty tomatoes, or add 1 1/2 tsp if using plain tomatoes). Simmer for an hour or more.
When vegetables are tender, add the spinach leaves. Stir them in as they wilt. Simmer an additional 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings and add pepper flakes if using. Ladle soup into bowls and top with freshly shredded Asiago cheese.
I mashed of few of the cauliflower flowerets against the side of the pot. This thickened the soup a little bit and gave it the illusion of having some rice or orzo pasta. This recipe would allow for most any vegetable you like--zucchini or green beans would be nice additions.
We all ate it up. John doesn't like the crushed red pepper flakes, so I added those into individual bowls. Now I will go put it into glass jars for storage. Those can even be frozen if you make sure to leave plenty of expansion space for the liquid. I like wide mouth canning jars. When I take those for lunch, I can reheat them in the microwave and eat straight from the jar, Fewer dishes to wash is always a good thing. Soup is a good thing too.