Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken

Well, lest I give off the impression that all we do is sit around and eat cakes and breads, I want to say that we do eat some healthy stuff around here.

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Here's a recipe for Italian Wedding Soup made with chicken instead of meatballs:

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ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP with CHICKEN

(Like I've said before: I don't measure things precisely when I'm cooking, so these are just my rough estimates. Feel free to experiment!)

Ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4-6 carrots, diced into large dice
- 5 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced by hand
- 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- Chicken broth (maybe 8 – 12 cups?)
- 2 stalks celery, cut in half (Neither my kids nor Nate like celery,
and I don't think it's part of the original Italian Wedding Soup
anyway, so I just simmer it along with the rest of the soup and then
remove it before serving.)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. oregano
- Basil – I use fresh basil, about 3 leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Spinach, either fresh or frozen, as much as you like
- 8 oz. star pasta
- Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:
1. Heat oil in large saucepan or stockpot. Add onions and carrots, and cook for a bit. Add the garlic and chicken, and cook until chicken is almost cooked through. Add chicken broth, celery, bay leaf, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour (or, if you're in a hurry, simmer until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook the star pasta according to box directions. Drain the pasta and keep in colander. (We used to add the stars to the soup but then they'd get bloated and soggy and soak up all the soup, so we now keep them separate.)

3. About 10 minutes before serving, add the spinach to the soup and let it cook through. Remove the celery stalks.

4. Spoon about 1/2 – 3/4 cup pasta into each bowl. Ladle soup into bowls, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
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