There are recipes that happen because one has a grand vision, and then there are those that happen because one is hungry, but lazy. This is one of those. What I really wanted was meatball soup, but meatballs required, well, making meatballs. I was hoping for something a little more one-pot, one-bowl.
Lucky for me, this soup gave me the chicken meatball goodness I desired. But, you know, without the meatballs.
I was working on make-ahead meals for the week, and I was dreaming of Sara Kate's Italian Wedding Soup, with its little pan-seared meatballs swimming in broth. But, you know, meatballs. I just didn't have the energy.
I wondered if I could do a cheater's version, sautéing ground chicken with herbs into little bites right in the pan, adding flavor to the meat without getting my hands dirty.
So I tried it, browning the ground chicken and chopping it vigorously in the pot with fresh rosemary and lemon zest. I simmered it with some chicken broth, celery, and onion, and threw in a handful of tiny pasta for heft. Lemon juice and Parmesan rounded it out into a tangy, savory soup with lots of aromatic flavor from the rosemary and chicken.
What can I say — I got lucky. And you can too; this soup truly comes together in less than 30 minutes, and it's so good I devoted another 30 minutes to a second batch later in the week.
Lemon & Rosemary Chicken Minestrone Soup
Makes 6 1-cup servings
1/2 pound ground chicken
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup pasta such as orzo or farfalline
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
Heat a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, stirring to break it into crumbles. Add the lemon zest and minced rosemary leaves and stir vigorously to mix them into the chicken crumbles. Continue cooking for several minutes or until the chicken begins to brown slightly and is no longer pink.
Add the olive oil to the pot and turn the heat down to medium. Stir in the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onion and celery soften. Season generously with salt and pepper and add the chicken broth.
Bring the broth to a simmer, then add the pasta. Cook according to package directions (probably 6 to 8 minutes) or just until the pasta is al dente. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately with extra Parmesan on the side.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 5 days.
Note: The soup will get progressively thicker and more like a saucy pasta dish as the pasta soaks up the broth in the refrigerator. You could leave out some of the pasta, adding only enough for one meal at a time, but I rather liked the way the soup changed and got thicker each day.
(Image credits: Faith Durand)