Tuscan Bean & Vegetable Soup with Chicken
This delicious and hearty winter soup is a labor of love, but well worth the effort! This recipe is by Cooking Instructor Kathy Lehr, from a class that I attended at The Culinary Vegetable Institute in Huron, Ohio. I made a only a few modifications from Kathy’s recipe and that was adding chicken and suggesting crostini for the garnish, as Kathy made her own bread at the class. Your entire house is going to smell delicious as this slowly simmers for a few hours. Enjoy! In fact, make a double batch and share with your friends and family. I made a double today and it’s enough for a Browns football party with 20 people, some to take to my Mom, and enough for leftovers tomorrow :)
- 1 large onion chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
- 7-8 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 large carrots chopped into ½” pieces
- 9 cups chicken stock (not broth – I use Rachel Ray’s Stock-in-a-Box)
- 1.5-2 pounds plum tomatoes finely chopped
- 3 large sprigs basil, fresh with stems
- 3 8-oz. cans beans of your choice (I use butter beans and great northern beans)
- 1 large bunch of escarole or kale (I prefer escarole but kale holds up better)
- One whole nutmeg (the nut, not the spice – not necessary, but adds a nice flavor)
- One whole roasted chicken (store bought or prepare your own)
- 3 large sprigs of fresh basil chopped
- Fresh parmesan cheese (for grating, and keep rinds for soup)
- Crostini (optional)
Saute onion in the olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and carrots. Saute another minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and juice to stock along with beans (drained and rinsed if canned), 3 whole sprigs of basil, and parmesan rinds (the rinds are what really makes it “Tuscan” flavored). When soup turns to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil gently, uncovered for about 1.5-2 hours.
Roll up your sleeves and pick that chicken CLEAN with your hands. Remove any skin, visible fat, and veins. Shred the entire chicken. In the last ½ hour, add shredded chicken to the soup.
Before serving, add cayenne pepper and a just a few passes of fresh grated nutmeg (again, the grated nut, not the spice). Simmer a few minutes. Remove whole stems of basil and parmesan rinds. Add chopped basil (saving a bit for garnish). Salt and pepper to taste. Add the escarole or kale. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese and top with basil to garnish. Also, you can add pieces of crostini to the garnish if you like (delicious, but CARBS…)
I bought my Crostini at the Giant Eagle Bakery. They have huge bags for about $6.