RECIPE: Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Soup with Pastina


It's comfort food season! A chill has settled into our part of the country and the leaves are changing. Soups are a perfect dinner for this time of year. The one issue with comfort food is that usually, its laden with calories. But this soup caught my eye because it had a great trick to thicken it with flavor yet keep it light. It's done by cooking some rice with some vegetables and pureeing it in a blender. Then adding the puree into the soup. It still has a splash of cream, but not as much as it would typically have. Also, chicken is delicately poached in the broth then pulled out. It made the chicken very tender and not dry.

My daughter slurped it right up, and we enjoyed dunking some multigrain bread in it, too. I froze the leftovers so we can enjoy it again soon.

Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Soup with Pastina
adapted from food network magazine April 2014 

Ingredients

4 cups of low sodium chicken broth 
3 stalks of celery, cut thinly to 1/4" slices 
Bag of pre-cut carrot coins, about 2 1/2 cups (about 5 carrots)
1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts 
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 
1/2 cup of white rice 
1 tablespoon of tomato paste 
14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained 
1 cup of frozen peas 
1/2 cup of heavy cream 
1/4 cup of dried parsley 

Directions 

Combine the chicken broth, celery and all but 1/2 cup of the carrot coins in a large sauté pan with a cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer until vegetables are beginning to soften. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the chicken, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Recover and gently simmer, flipping the chicken midway until just cooked through (about 18 minutes total.) You're basically poaching the chicken and flavoring the broth.

Remove the chicken after 18 minutes and bring it to a cutting board. Let cool slightly. Reserve broth in the pan. You may turn the heat off until you are ready to use it.

Meanwhile, combine 4 cups of water, rice, tomato paste, half the diced tomatoes and the remaining half a cup of chopped carrots in a sauce pan. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the rice and carrots are tender. This takes about 15 minutes. Puree the rice mixture in a blender until smooth. Heat up the waiting broth in the sauté pan. Then whisk the rice mixture into the large sauté pan with the broth mixture until smooth and combined. Cook over medium low heat and add the peas, heavy cream and the remaining drained diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Then chop the chicken and return it to the soup and stir in the parsley. Adjust the seasoning.

Meanwhile cook some pastina according to package directions. Drain the pasta and ladle helpings into bowls then ladle the chicken soup on top of the pasta. Serve hot.

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