I have a real problem dumping water into a recipe. Unless I’m making stock or have a robust flavor, my fear of diluting the flavor and having to add more salt gets in the way. Now, I know that my alternatives, particularly chicken, beef and vegetable stocks, are chock full of sodium, but they also bring along some complementary flavors.
In this recipe for pesto, chicken, and white bean soup from Chow.com, 1/3 of the liquid in the pan is water. For a weeknight soup that isn’t going to cook long, this seems like rolling the dice. And, there’s nothing worse than soup that takes like hot water.
WHAT WORKED: Stock, namely vegetable stock. I subbed two cups of it in for the water. It worked fine and there was no need to adjust flavors because of salt. The Wife, who doesn’t like things too salty, did not complain. And as I explained to The Kid tonight, when mommy’s happy, everyone’s happy. Also, the chard I forgot to use on Monday made for a nice addition.
WHAT DIDN’T: Everything worked well.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: She enjoyed it but thought that we could do this again without the sausage.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: There’s another quart in the freezer, so it should rear its head soon.
Pesto, chicken, and white bean soup
Adapted from Chow
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 oz. uncooked sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed (I opted for turkey sausage)
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 medium), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2 medium zucchini (about 12 ounces), medium dice
- 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup basil pesto, plus more as needed
- 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until it’s browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Add the chicken and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and chicken to a medium bowl and set aside.
Add the zucchini, onion, remaining teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes, and measured pepper to the pot and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, scraping up any browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pot, until the onion has softened, about 7 minutes.
Return the sausage, chicken, and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the broth and water, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the beans and measured pesto. Cook until the beans are just heated through, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, with the extra pesto on the side.