Easy Italian Chicken and Caesar Soup?

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Wow, this is just like riding a bike.  I know I fell out of the writing habit for while, a consequence of packing up everything you own and moving to a new place.  With all my recipes taped up in a box, it’s been hard to come up with something to share.  While I spent a lot of time thawing leftovers, not only to make room in a packed freezer, but also because there just wasn’t energy left after a long day of packing, painting, or organizing.

Speaking of unpacking, this led to my first offering this week.  While loading the new pantry, I pulled out a container I didn’t recognize.  It looked like it was supposed to be there, but I couldn’t remember ever using it for anything I’ve cooked.  I held it up to the light, then turned to my husband and asked what he thought it was.  We finally determined it was Italian-seasoned breading, and with a shrug I put it back on the shelf, noting to use it soon.  So the next night for dinner I thawed some chicken, and decided I was going to “oven-fry” some Italian chicken.  As I preheated the oven and got my veggies started, I realized there would be no egg wash for this dish, but I remembered there’s a recipe out there somewhere that substitutes mayo.  God forgive me, but that made some of the most tender, juicy chicken I have ever baked.

Easy Italian Chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

    Italian Chicken
    Like shake and bake, but better.
  • 1/2 C bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasonings of choice (or 1/4 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/4 tsp. parsley flakes)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together Italian seasonings, crushed red pepper, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs together.  In a separate bowl, stir together butter and mayo.  Dredge chicken in mayonnaise mixture, then in bread crumbs, setting in a baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes.

My second offering was on one of my wild soup kicks.  I love a big bowl  of soup.  It’s warm, cozy, sometimes familiar and happy, other times new and exciting.  This is a new and exciting one for me.  I love Caesar salads. I love soup, and this blew my mind.  This is Chicken Caesar Soup.  (I know I normally do one meal that is meatless, but the chicken can be very easily left out here.)  I don’t have any other words, it just blew my dome – and it was a great reason to use my stick blender, which happens to be one of my favorite wedding gifts.   With no further ado, I give you the recipe.

Chicken Caesar Soup
It’s a salad, as a soup! It’s the best of both worlds!

Chicken Caesar Soup (from Food Network Magazine)

For the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large piece parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the croutons:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 baguette
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions
Make the soup: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, 3 cups water, the potato and the parmesan rind. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate using tongs and let cool.

Meanwhile, make the croutons: Combine the mayonnaise, grated parmesan, lemon juice, anchovies, hot sauce, garlic, a few grinds of pepper and 1 tablespoon water in a blender or food processor; puree until smooth.

Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Arrange on a baking sheet and brush with the mayonnaise mixture, reserving 2 tablespoons for topping. Sprinkle with the parsley, lemon zest and more parmesan; bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

Add the lettuce and heavy cream to the pot and cook until the lettuce is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard the parmesan rind. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Shred the chicken and add it to the soup; heat through over medium heat. Divide among bowls, drizzle with the reserved mayonnaise mixture and top with the croutons and more pepper.

Tip of the week: Not sure what to do with the carcass of a whole-roasted chicken.  throw it in a pot with enough water to cover it, and boil all the good stuff of the bones.  Discard the bones, and keep some amazing chicken stock.

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