When I make this soup my home smells warm and inviting. The broth is almost sweet from the carrots and keeps my family clamoring for more. In the winter I make this at least once a month because it makes not only one of the best dinners but because it wraps up easily for fantastic lunches. If that weren’t enough, the stock can be made ahead of time and frozen for up 3 months. This recipe is also fun and forgiving when it comes to adjusting for available ingredients. For example, at Thanksgiving, I replaced the chicken for turkey leftovers and made some awesome turkey soup. Beyond that, you can substitute the southern holy trinity for the mirepoix to create a spicy soup. You can change the noodles and veg, whatever you want. I love this recipe and hope you really find success in whatever variation of it you imagine.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 small onion, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium celery rib, chopped medium
2 -3 ribs of swiss (or rainbow) chard, chopped medium
1 quart water
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons table salt
1 small fryer (chicken), broken down
3 large carrots, peeled, cut roughly on bias
2 – 3 Ribs of swiss (or rainbow) chard, chopped medium
4 – 6 Swiss chard leaves, ribs removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
4 whole cloves of garlic
2 cups of tortellini noodles (cooked separately according to directions)
How to bring it all together
For the stock:
1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ground chicken, onion, carrot, chard, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 10 minutes (do not brown chicken).
2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add water, broth, bay leaves, salt, and chicken breasts; cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. (If liquid is already boiling when lid is removed, remove chicken pieces immediately and continue with recipe.) Transfer chicken pieces to large plate and set aside. Continue to cook stock for 20 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain gentle boil. Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer into large pot or container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes and skim off 90 percent of the fat.
For the soup:
3. Remove skin and bones from reserved cooked chicken and discard. Shred meat with fingers or 2 forks. Separate dark meat and white meat.
4. Return stock to Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add carrots, chard, garlic, and shredded dark meat of chicken, cook 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain gentle boil. Add chard leaves and continue to cook until all vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes longer.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
Add desired amount of tortellini noodles to each person’s bowl. Ladle soup over noodles.