We’re headed into the jam-packed (cookie-packed, party-packed, shopping-packed) month of December. This is the time of year when convenience trumps (sorry, couldn’t think of another synonym) proper meal planning. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to eat well, and by well I do not mean utilizing the dreaded drive-thru.
The folks at Food 52 came up with this ingenious rendition of Chicken Parmesan transformed into a healthy soup. It’s got all the flavor of the original, rich Italian entree without all the fat and calories. And it’s a no-brainer to prepare — like most slow cooker recipes you simply toss everything into the pot, set it and forget it. No excuses now. You can do this!
Did I say convenient? Yes, but did I add delicious? This soup is soul-warming, satisfying, flavor-packed, perfect for a busy winter night when you’re just too pooped to pop.
The recipe makes 6 cups of soup and can easily be doubled, which is what I did. I used a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes and 6 ounces of penne pasta (I didn’t double the pasta because I thought it might swell quite a bit which it did.) I also didn’t have fresh oregano so I added a heaping 1 tsp. of dried Italian seasoning. Adding the dried pasta and cooking on HIGH for 30 minutes at the end seemed to work perfectly. I stirred it every 10 minutes or so to make sure that it wasn’t sticking.
You can vary the ingredients here to suit your tastes. Next batch I think I’ll add some fresh spinach or kale with the pasta to bump up the veggie quotient. Hey, in the proverbial month of fruitcake, a few greens (other than candied green cherries) can only help.
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14 1/2-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 lb. raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
pinch red pepper flakes (or more if you have an asbestos-lined mouth)
4 oz. uncooked penne pasta
Chopped fresh basil for garnish
In a slow cooker stir together the garlic, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, chicken, broth, onion, Parmesan cheese, herbs and red pepper flakes. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 7 hours.
Transer chicken breasts to a cutting board and coarsely shred meat. Return to slow cooker and stir in uncooked pasta. Cook on HIGH for 30 minutes longer or until pasta is cooked al dente.
Serve garnished with chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.
Serves 6 (each serving = 1 cup)
WW SmartPoints per serving: 4