Chicken soup with pesto

28 January 2018

Chicken soup This soup began when I started adding chicken to the classic Proven├žal dish soupe au pistou. It is a great way to use up leftover vegetables, and freezes well—hence, the gigantic recipe below. Almost any individual ingredient could be substituted or omitted, though I’d say that adding some kind of fresh herb or pesto at the end is essential.

  • For twelve servings:
    1 kg chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
    80 g diced pancetta or bacon
    3–4 carrots, diced
    2–3 leeks, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
    ~6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
    A bunch of rosemary/thyme, chopped, or 2 tbsp herbes de Provence
    50 g butter
    2 bay leaves
    3 large sweet potatoes, chopped in one-inch dice
    Two 400 g tins of whole tomatoes, drained and very roughly chopped
    White wine (optional)
  • For four servings of pesto:
    Two big handfuls of basil leaves
    ┬╝ cup good olive oil
    Small handful of pine nuts or walnuts
    60 g finely grated parmesan
  • In a large stock pot, brown the chicken thighs on one side over a medium-high heat, working in batches and taking care not to crowd the pan. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables.
  • Set the browned chicken aside, and to the pot add the pancetta, carrots, leeks, garlic, herbs, and butter. Cook over a medium-low heat for at least 10 minutes, until everything is soft and browned. Deglaze the pan every now and then with a splash of water or wine.
  • Add back the chicken, plus the remaining ingredients. Pour in enough liquid to just cover everything, plus salt and black pepper (the sweet potatoes demand a lot of salt, so you’ll probably need to add more later). Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for about two to three hours.
  • To make the pesto, chop up the basil in a food processor (or a mortar and pestle). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, then add the nuts and cheese and process for a few seconds until you have a chunky paste.
  • Serve the soup with a dollop of pesto and hot buttered toast.