I absolutely love the change in seasons and think that besides the change in weather, the main reason is because of cooking! No matter what season arrives, I get excited for the array of culinary opportunities that come with it. We arrived back in Atlanta successfully missing the Monsoon of 2009 (21 inches of rain in 1 week!) to a beautiful Sunday - it was in the high 70's during the day and at night was definitely chilly enough to wear a sweatshirt.
I had originally planned on a week of salads to make up for the extreme indulgence of my 8 days in Greece, but as soon as I felt a hint of a chill in the air, the menu changed to soup! One of the things I absolutely love cooking in the fall is soups and chili. There is something so calming about letting a warm creation simmer for hours to fill up the whole house with comforting aroma.
I ventured somewhere I hardly ever go: my recipe box! Recipes in this house almost always come from surfing the net for hours, a few tried and true cookbooks, or the Food Network. However, something made me open the recipe box and soon I stumbled across a recipe that I had torn out of Fitness Magazine back in October 2008, and based on the stain from chicken broth on the page, remembered that I made this last fall as well. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to start a blog - to document what we cook so no recipe gets folded, stuffed in the dark hole that is my recipe box, and forgotten again!
The recipe is really simple and could be altered in a lot of ways. I added in the onion and oregano, and next time will add more fresh basil. The original recipe called for 3 chicken breasts; I used 2 and thought it was plenty. It yields 4 generous servings.
42 ounces chicken broth
1 3/4 cups tomato and basil pasta sauce
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 onion, chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
salt and pepper
6 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a Dutch oven, bring the chicken broth, pasta sauce, beans, red pepper flakes, and oregano to a boil. Reduce heat and keep the mixture barely simmering. Add the chopped onion. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and poach, stirring occasionally. Leave on low heat, covered, for as long as you desire - I simmered for about 45 minutes. Just before you are ready to serve, stir in the spinach and cook until it is just wilted (about a minute). Add in the basil, season with salt and pepper, and ladle soup into bowls. Top with grated cheese.