Chicken Soup With Pesto And Pasta

Homemade chicken soup with pesto and pasta

We've already documented our riff on soupe au pistou as well as our pea soup that we spike with some English-inspired pesto and cook in the microwave for outrageous simplicity.

Every now and then, though, we like to go the extra mile. Stock is the base for so many French dishes, and you can't make a truly epic soup without an epic stock supplying the base flavours.

As for the pasta, well, because chicken soup is widely regarded as the perfect comfort food, we favour anelli as it reminds us of the Heinz Spaghetti Hoops that we grew up on as children. The telltale sign of 5* dried pasta is if there's a noticeable texture on it. That means it has been extruded through a bronze die and is brilliant at making sauces cling to it.

Anelli pasta shape

Pro tip
Homemade stock featuring your own additions (star anise, anyone?) is the starting point of any restaurant-quality soup. Use a premium supermarket stock at a pinch, but we much prefer going down the homemade route if we can justify the additional time and investment it requires.

Ingredients for four portions

Chicken legs x2
Chicken stock 1.5l
Pasta 200g
Carrot 1
Onion 1
Celery rib 1
Bay leaf 1
Fresh thyme 1 sprig
Rosemary 1 sprig
Sage 1 sprig
Garlic 2 cloves
Seasoning to taste

Dice your vegetables to your preferred chunkiness. We've experimented with dicing them pea-sized, die-sized, completely random sizes and loved all the results.

Put all the ingredients, apart from the pasta, in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. You don't have to constantly babysit it, but you'll end up with a better soup if you occasionally remove any impurities that rise to the surface.

Continue to simmer until the chicken legs start to fall off the bone, around an hour or so, depending on the age of the chicken and the strength of the simmer. Remove them, let them cool a little, and then shred with a pair of forks. Adjust your shredding technique depending on whether you want chunky or fully shredded chicken pieces in your soon-to-be masterpiece.

Over a bowl or large Pyrex jug, strain the vegetables through a sieve. Next, strain the cooking liquor through muslin or cheesecloth to remove the really small particles, which will make your soup cloudy if you don't get rid of them.

Add your strained cooking liquid to a clean saucepan and bring to a simmer. Season to taste, and then add the pasta and cook according to the pack instructions.

Two minutes or so before your pasta is perfectly cooked, add the vegetables and shredded chicken to the saucepan. Continue simmering until the pasta is al dente and everything is warmed through.

Serve in your favourite soup bowls, and dollop a generous tablespoon of pesto on top before serving.

Enjoy with crusty bread, or a generous glass of chilled Lucozade if you're one of those people who reserves chicken soup for when your loved ones are feeling poorly.

Serving suggestions
Warm olive focaccia
Deep-fried mozzarella in carrozza
Kheema chapati
Mixed platter of charcuterie
Ratatouille with crispy onions