BLT Chicken Noodle Soup
No need to cut up the grape tomatoes for this. I just cook them in a covered pan until they pop out of their skins. Suggested side: Crusty bread, for mopping.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered, with root end attached
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Zest of 1 lemon, cut off in long strips with a vegetable peeler
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 large or 3 or 4 medium leeks
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
- 6 slices good-quality lean bacon or a 4-ounce chunk pancetta, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 or 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup gemelli or short fusilli pasta
- A handful of fresh dill or parsley, finely chopped
In a saucepan, combine the chicken, onion, wine, lemon zest, and 1 bay leaf. Add enough water to cover the top of the chicken meat (about 4 cups). Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and gently poach until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and when cool enough to handle, dice or shred with 2 forks. Strain the poaching liquid and reserve 5 cups (if you don’t have 5 cups, you can add more store-bought chicken stock to make up the difference).
Halve the leeks lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch half-moons. Wash in the sink or large bowl filled with cold water. Dry the leeks on a kitchen towel and set aside.
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the EVOO (2 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges, about 3 minutes. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the carrots, celery, leeks, tomatoes, thyme, the remaining bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the tomatoes burst, 12 to 15 minutes. Use a potato masher to crush any reluctant tomatoes. Add the cooked chicken, stock, and reserved poaching liquid. Simmer to combine the flavors.
Make-ahead: Cool and refrigerate.
Night of: Return the soup to room temp before reheating gently over medium heat.
Bring the soup to a boil and add the pasta. Cook to al dente. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the dill or parsley. If the soup is too thick, add a little water.
Serve in shallow bowls.