The Bay Area has strange summers. There is a bogus Mark Twain quote out there about this, but I won't get into that now. The point is- cool and foggy days make me want soup. Chicken soup. This chicken soup to be exact. It's great for a weeknight, because it's a one-pot meal and it's fast if you have pre-cooked chicken. It is still pretty fast even if you have to cook the chicken on the spot. Now that I have said the word "chicken" for the past four sentences, let's talk about...
CHICKEN! Think about how confusing it has become to buy chicken these days. Lots of labels and not a lot of clarity around what they all mean. Here is quick guide to a small number of the many used:
Natural - This literally means nothing.
Free-Range - The USDA defines free-range as the ability for chickens to access the outdoors. As you can imagine, this incredibly vague definition is used in incredibly sketchy ways.
Hormone-Free - This, too, means nothing. The USDA prohibits poultry farmers from giving hormones and steroids to chicken. So all chicken is hormone-free.
Organic - This means no antibiotics used on the chicken itself and 100% of feed must be grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or GMOs for at least three years.
My stance on all of this? Get to know who you buy chicken from, ask them questions, get answers, and thank them if they are doing a good job. And keep buying their product.
Okay. Where was I? Ah yes. The ingredient list...
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomatoes, crushed
1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
4 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red chili flake
parmesan cheese (for topping)
arugula (for topping)
Combine the onion and garlic in a large stock pot with a heavy dose of olive oil. Bring to a simmer on low heat, and when the onions start to sweat, add the stock. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add chicken, pasta, lemon juice, red pepper and vinegar. Cook until the pasta is done--about 10-15 minutes. Note: This recipe is a salt hog. You need to season very generously to get delicious results.
I added a handful of arugula to the bowl before I served and then generously topped with parmesan cheese. This is a great dish to make when it is chilly, you don't feel well, you are bored, or have extra chicken. Or whenever. Enjoy!