Chicken Soup, a Glass of Barbera, and a Hungry Puppy.

Lately I am loving soup.  At some point every week it seems I find myself rooting around in my refrigerator, pulling out all kinds of odds and ends, and throwing them together in a big  stock pot.  The result is a hot meal we are happy eating for a few days, freeing me up to cook less, and drink more.  Here’s one of my favorite methods for making a fast chicken soup, and a favorite wine recommendation as well…

1. Chop a Bunch ‘o Veggies.  I used a few zucchini, some yellow squash, tomatoes, carrots, celery and mushrooms.

2. Sautee the mushrooms in a little olive oil (in the stock pot you want to use to build your spoup- you only need one pot).

3. Once the mushrooms are browned and have created some delicious brown tidbits on
the sides of the pan, add the rest of the veggies (except the tomatoes).  Add salt, pepper and stir.

4. Add minced garlic.  We are an Ital-Armenian household, so I use about 6 cloves.  Oh yes.

5. Once the veggies start to become translucent, I add the tomatoes and about 4 cups of water.  If you want the vegetables to be a little softer in the resulting soup, cook them longer here before adding the water.  Season with salt again to taste.

6.  Once the soup reaches a boil, I add the chopped, raw chicken.  I let this simmer for as long as it takes to cook the chicken through, or longer depending on how hungry I am.

7.  You can add raw spinach at this point- it cooks down really fast and small in the soup.  Or you can add fresh cilantro- we happened to have some on hand the other night.  I also taste the soup and balance the flavor in the end with a squeeze of citrus, or a splash of balsamic vinegar.

In the end, there’s nothing easier than this kind of soup.  It smells amazing (6 cloves of garlic, remember?), it’s healthy, and it’s a one-pot meal you can feed to a whole mess of people.  Office potluck, anyone?

We had a glass of Paolo Scavino’s Barbera d’Alba 2009 with this soup.  It was really a perfect choice- the wine is soft, juicy and has enough acidity to stand up to the vegetable broth and citrus.  I love Scavino’s Barbera- it’s prototypical for me- very much the wine I think of when I think of Barbera.  Soft cherries, plums and a little bit of spice.  This is a great cold-weather wine as it pairs well with lots of steamy winter food: braised meats, roasted chicken, and all manner of stews and soups.

Buon Appetito!