Chicken Ditalini Soup with Rosemary and Thyme

This soup was inspired by and adapted from my Williams-Sonoma catalog.  When it came in the mail, I opened it up to find a recipe for Pasta e Ceci Soup.

However, I knew that chickpeas and veggies wouldn’t be enough to satisfy my carnivorous family.  So I made quite a few changes, adding baked chicken and extra flavor with celery, potatoes, and mushrooms.

You could easily omit the chicken to make this recipe vegetarian, or just use the original recipe which can be found here.

Chicken Ditalini Soup with Rosemary and Thyme
Makes 6-8 servings.

1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta (the original recipe calls for tubetti pasta, but this was the closest thing I could find)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces and set aside

♦♦  For the chicken, you can either use the meat of a rotisserie chicken from the store, or bake your own (drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, dried rosemary and thyme) in the oven in a lightly-greased baking dish at 350°F for 30-45 minutes.  The chicken is done when there is no pink in the center and the juices run clear.  If you opt to use a store-bought chicken, be sure to season it well.  I personally prefer to bake my chicken for recipes.  It takes a little longer, but it tastes wonderful!

extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
5 celery stalks, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 pkg of button mushrooms, sliced
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained (you could substitute 2-3 fresh tomatoes)
5 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme, plus more for the chicken
dried rosemary
freshly ground black pepper
7 cups of water
Optional: 3 peeled potatoes, diced

Garnish: Freshly ground pepper, Parmesan cheese shavings and basil paste or a dollop of basil pesto

Method:
Bake the chicken breasts and chop them into bite-size pieces once they have cooled.  Set aside.  OR  Season the rotisserie chicken meat and chop it into small pieces and set aside.  Also, cook the pasta and drain, then set aside.

In a small frying pan, brown the mushrooms in some olive oil.

The mushrooms working away towards browning. Ignore the pieces of onion in the pan, I used the same spoon for the veggie mixture!

In a soup pot, heat a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and add in the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.  Cook on medium until tender, about 5 minutes.

At the beginning of the soup, the basic veggie mix nearly softened with garlic and in a bit of olive oil.

Add in the potatoes, and the dried thyme.  Cook about 3 minutes.

I put dried thyme in nearly every chicken dish. It's a great flavor combo.

Add in the diced tomatoes.  Cook another 2-3 minutes.

Look at all the colors.

Pour in the water.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer the vegetables for 20 minutes or so, until the broth has developed a nice flavor.  Then reduce the heat to low.  I taste a spoonful every so often to determine when the soup is done.

Once the broth has reduced and concentrated its flavor, add the bite-size chicken pieces and any juices from the baking pan.  It’s like liquid gold!

Trust me, all the chicken, veggies, and herbs are in there!

At the very end, add in the mushrooms and cooked pasta.  Stir to combine with the chicken, vegetables, and broth.  Heat on low a few minutes more to let the flavors meld.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with additional pepper, Parmesan shavings, and basil pesto.  Serve with crusty bread to mop up all the flavorful broth.

The nice thing about this soup is that it is hearty with a light, herb-rich broth that is perfect for a summer supper.

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