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This is a favorite of mine: REC: Chicken Soup with Pumpkin and Marsala Wine

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Joined: Dec 21, 2005


Posted to Thread #16321 at 7:29 pm on Sep 29, 2009

Chicken Soup with Pumpkin and Marsala Wine

by: Erica De Mane - Pasta Improvvisata

Lately I've found myself eating soup in front of the television while following the national crisis. Soup seems the easiest thing to get down at such times. I served this soup the evening President Bush made his speech before the joint session of Congress laying out his war plans. It contains what I consider classic fall flavors: pumpkin, cooked greens, and the warming aromas of rosemary and Marsala wine.

Any small pasta or broken spaghetti can be used for this soup, but I tend to like very small types such as orzo or acini. I've found a pasta called grattoni, made by Rustichella d'Abruzzi, an excellent artisanal pasta producer in Italy, that looks like little seed pearls and gives the soup an elegant appearance. Tubetti, tiny tubes, are also a good choice.

A word about the broth for this soup: The one thing that keeps a lot of cooks from making more soups is the extra step required to make one's own broth. Some soups can be prepared with water, but most, even many vegetable soups, taste richer with a light meat broth of some sort. Homemade chicken broth is best for this soup, but I've found that if I use about a quart and a half of low-salt canned chicken broth (I like Swanson) and a container of Perfect Addition's frozen Rich Chicken Stock, I get a better than decent flavor. Also, the whole chicken adds so much of its own flavor that you can get away with a less than perfect broth here.

(Serves 4 as a main course lunch or supper soup)

Olive oil
1 slice fatty, end-cut prosciutto, well chopped
1 large onion, cut into small dice
2 carrots, cut into small dice
1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds
Black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
A few gratings of nutmeg
A few small sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
1/2 cup dry Marsala
2 quarts chicken broth (see above)
A large piece of pumpkin, peeled and cut into small cubes (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup small soup pasta (see above), cooked al dente, drained, and tossed in a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt
1 medium head escarole, washed, dried, and well chopped
1 cup grated Grana Padano cheese

Choose a large casserole or heavy-bottomed soup pot fitted with a lid. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium flame. When hot, add the prosciutto, onion, and carrots, and sauté a few minutes to soften. Add the chicken, seasoning it with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and rosemary, and brown lightly all over, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté a minute or so, just to release its flavor. Add the Marsala and let it reduce by half. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil (the broth should just about cover the chicken; if more than an inch sticks out, add water). Turn the heat to low, cover the casserole, and simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, until it is very tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the broth. Skim all the fat from the surface of the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat off it and cut into little chunks. Discard the skin and bones. Return the broth to a boil. Add the pumpkin and cook uncovered until tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken, the pasta, and the escarole. Simmer on low heat about 2 or 3 minutes, just to blend the flavors and wilt the escarole. Taste for seasoning, adding a bit more salt, black pepper, fresh rosemary, or a pinch of nutmeg to balance the flavors. Serve hot, topped with a sprinkling of Grana Padano.

"Well-behaved women rarely make history."

LT Ulrich

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