Thursday, October 2, 2014

Chicken Noodle Soup, Italian style

The lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master. – Khalil Gibran

Comfort. It’s something we all seek, be it “comfortable-ness” in our life situation or comfort in times of trial or grief.

It’s unusual how the first reaction upon hearing of a death is to go to the kitchen and start cooking for the bereaved family. Apparently our grief is held in our stomachs, and can be assuaged by a full pot of baked beans, or a loaf of banana bread.

I know I’m as guilty of this as everyone else, and even self-medicate. When I’m sad I go for food. 

This past year has been full of stressful change – one where the blue fell from the sky like a heavy blanket onto the grass, garden, and everything else in my life. One week from today is the anniversary of losing someone very dear to me, and it’s got me down.

I try to not show my lingering pain, but at times it becomes raw, and it only takes the smallest memory to set it off. Perhaps after the one year mark I will begin to mentally file my sadness into its proper "forever place" in my heart.

It’s much of the reason I have been posting sporadically over the last year. Most days I just can’t bring myself to do it. It seems so unimportant. I need to change that. I enjoy writing this blog and sharing with all of you. Like food, it’s another form of comfort and is far easier on the waistline.

All this sadness over the death of a dog. But Henry was not a dog. He was as much a family member as any living being could ever be. He lived to be with me, and I returned the feeling. He was my child for 8-1/2 years. His passing hit me hard, for a whole host of reasons. I will always wonder “what if”...

He used to chase the waves as
they broke on shore of our
local beach. He loved it.
So I’m in need of a little comfort this week, and this night I took it in the form of food. So into the kitchen I went...

Chicken soup is always a safe comfort bet. The decision was aided by the fact I had some thighs in the refrigerator. But I had another problem: two bags of tomatoes picked two weeks ago.

Two days ago I oven-roasted two dozen, plus an eggplant, and then froze them for quick sauces later. There’s another 32 or so on the stovetop, and more from the bags ripening every day. Whatever “chicken soup” I made had to use tomatoes. I may be sad, but waste is sadder.

So I came up with this recipe. It stews garlic, tomatoes and other veggies, which are then puréed into an almost creamy base for pasta and shredded chicken.

All in all, very satisfying. And more than a little comforting.

Chicken Noodle Soup, Italian style
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 60 min  |  Serves 6-8
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 lg carrot, diced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
6-8 plum tomatoes, chopped*
4 cups chicken stock
6-8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in*
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp cracked black pepper
300g pasta (like penne, rotini, fusilli)
salt to taste
grated parmesan, optional
*depending on size

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a well-fitting lid. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and sauté on medium until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, stock, chicken thighs, oregano, black pepper and a little salt (1/2 tsp). Bring to a boil, reduce het to medium and cover. Let cook for 30 minutes.

After the half hour, remove the chicken thighs and set aside. Purée the vegetables and liquid in the pot until very smooth. Add the pasta to the purée, cover and cook until 2 minutes short of al dente. Stir a few times while it cooks.

While the pasta cooks, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat. Two minutes before the pasta is fully cooked, add the chicken and bring back to a boil.

Taste for salt and adjust as desired. Serve immediately with grated parmesan, crusty bread and butter.


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  1. Missing your regular posts, but understand the heartache of Henry.

  2. i am so sorry about henry. when i lost my last chow, i was in a horrible place until the day that i got teddy. teddy filled the gap for me. thanks for this recipe! i will try it soon.