Loads of vegetables, herbs, lentils, and pasta create a hearty, savory, and healthy chicken stew. Use bone-in chicken to create an in-the-pot broth – so fresh and tasty, with less salt.
I added this Silician Chicken Soup pin to my Pinterest boards last week, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I am such a sucker for a really good chicken and vegetable soup, and it had all the markings of deliciousness.
According to the pin author, her recipe is a copycat of a soup served at Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Now, I’ve never dined at Carrabba’s, so I hope my adjustments aren’t blasphemous to fans of their Silician Chicken Soup. It was chilly and rainy on the day I made it, and I wanted something comforting that fits in a big bowl I can wrap my hands around — a full meal of soup instead of soup-and-something. I upped the vegetables and herbs, added Parmesan for good measure, and a good dose of red lentils just because.
This chicken stew reminded me just how tasty a dish can be when you cook a bone-in chicken right in the dish. It adds a few minutes to the works — removing the meat from the bones before serving — but the resulting broth is absolutely worth that tiny effort. (To wit, this entire pot of chicken stew had a total of 1 teaspoon of added salt – fresh chicken broth is that flavorful.)
I’ll also mention that if you regularly buy Parmesan wedges for freshly grated cheese, save those rinds! Store them in a zip top bag in the freezer, and add a piece to simmering soups and stews. It creates great savory flavor without tons of cheesy calories.
I love the potential flexibility here: the chicken stew would be great with a variety of vegetables — parsnips, winter squash, sweet potatoes — and even different grains (wild rice springs to mind). Whatever’s on hand.
If it’s been a while since you’ve created soup from scratch — making fresh broth right in the soup — give it a try. I know you’ll love it!
- 1 tablespoon high heat oil like coconut or avocado
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 small bell pepper diced (I used red)
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 1 small fennel bulb chopped
- 3 small Yukon gold potatoes diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning blend
- 1 can diced tomatoes 14 ounces with its juices
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 half of a chicken bone-in, skin-on*
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 " piece of Parmesan cheese rind or 1 tablespoon very finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 ounces small shaped dried pasta
- 1/3 cup dried red lentils
- Fresh flat leaf parsley chopped, for garnish
Heat the oil in a 4 to 5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium until shimmering. Add the vegetables (onion, pepper, celery, carrots, fennel, and potatoes) and sauté until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs, and stir until fragrant (just a minute or so). Pour in the diced tomatoes (with the juices) and combine, along with the bay leaf.
Clear a space in the center of the pot by scootching the vegetables to sides of the pot. Place the chicken (or chicken pieces) skin-side down in contact with the surface of the pot and let sizzle for several minutes. Flip so the skin side is up. Cover everything with water by 1" (about 4 cups). Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, to maintain a simmer. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the Parmesan rind (if using a rind). Cover partially with lid, and let cook for two hours.
After two hours, taste the broth, and add another 1/2 teaspoon salt, if needed.
Transfer all of the chicken to a bowl to cool (about 20 minutes), and remove and discard the bay leaf and Parmesan rind (if using). Stir the lentils into the soup and cover again. Cook for at least 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package directions (no softer than al dente). Drain, and add to soup.**
When the chicken can be handled safely, remove the meat from the bones and shred (discard the bones or freeze to make broth later). Add to the soup.
If using grated Parmesan cheese, add now and stir in, along with the fresh parsley. Serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight for even more flavor.
* I used half of a fryer chicken, which is a cut that should be readily available. Alternatively, use bone-in, skin-on breasts and or thighs.
** For more of a soup than a stew, serve the pasta on the side, to be added by each person as they please.