My current favourite chicken soup! Creamy broth, juicy little bits of chicken, pasta shells and swirls of spinach with a sprinkle of sun dried tomato I use in place of croutons. Think – under the Tuscan Sun. Except – sweater weather food!
Creamy Tuscan Chicken Soup
Let me just say upfront – I call this Tuscan but there’s nothing authentically Tuscan about it (as far as I know). To me, it has Tuscan vibes, so I gave it a cute name with the hopes to pique your interest. Just in case my photos and writing doesn’t do the job well enough to convince you that you really need to try this creamy chicken soup!!!
In all honesty, I was gazing longingly at my Tuscan Chicken Pasta Bake from my cookbook, trying to muster up the energy to make it. Because that big bubbling pasta bake does require a semi-modest commitment of time to make. Worth it, but sadly, time is not always on my side.
This Tuscan Soup was born from similar ingredients. A faster, soup version of the pasta bake. I hope you fall in love with this soup as much as I have!
Ingredients in Creamy Tuscan Chicken Soup
Those of you who have made the Tuscan Chicken Pasta Bake will recognise most of these ingredients. All the star players are present – sun dried tomato, spinach, chicken, pasta, cream, cheese!
Things in the soup
Here are the things that are bobbing about in the creamy soup broth:
Chicken – I prefer thigh because it’s juicier, has better flavour and is thin enough to cook whole, so no raw meat chopping called for. But breast can be used too. If using chicken breast, slice horizontally into thin steaks to sear. The thick whole breasts are too thick.
Pasta – I use small shells. Any small pasta is fine here. Think – ditalini, small macaroni, risoni/orzo (you’ve got half the packet left from last weeks’ salad, right!?). Anything small enough to be easy to scoop up with a spoon that cooks in around 10 minutes. Broken spaghetti or other long pasta will also work – break into 4cm / 1.5″ pieces.
Sun dried tomato – This is the garnish for this soup! Instead of using croutons, nuts etc. 🙂 Little chewy pops of concentrated savoury tomato flavour with swirls of the red oil from the sun dried tomato jar.
Garlic and onion – Flavour base!
Celery – Vegetable of choice here. I like it because the colour sort of blends into the soup, keeping it lovely and white so the bright red sun dried tomato and swirls of spinach stand out. Plus, celery is a classic flavour base for many savoury things. Substitute with other cook-able vegetables. Think: diced zucchini, corn, carrots.
Butter – The cooking fat of choice, because it’s got more flavour than oil.
Creamy chicken soup broth
A splash of white wine, good handful of parmesan and finishing with cream gives the Tuscan soup broth great flavour!
Cornflour/cornstarch – This is what is used to thicken the soup. I opted to use this over flour for calorie control reasons. Using flour, I would’ve needed an extra 30g/2 tbsp of butter to stir the flour into at the beginning to make a roux. With cornflour, you just mix with a bit of water then stir it into the soup right at the end. Also, cornflour makes the soup nice and shiny, which I like in this soup (flour makes broths dull).
Wine – Just 1/2 a cup, adds extra depth of flavour so you there’s enough flavour using half stock, half water, rather than 2 litres / quarts of water. Money saving tip. 🙂 It’s like free stock! Doesn’t make the broth taste winey, because we cook out the alcohol, just leaving behind lovely savoury flavour.
Can’t consume alcohol? Switch half the water for more chicken stock/broth.
Cream – Gives the soup a lovely creamy mouthfeel finish as well as making the soup white. You can opt to use milk instead, but reduce water by 1/2 cup and use 1 1/2 cups milk (else soup colour not as white). To get a nice finish, I’d add a knob of butter!
Parmesan – Another flavour boost. Normally I recommend shredding your own but I used store-bought pre-shredded for convenience here and it melted fine in the hot soup (unlike in cheesy sauces). The sandy-type, from the fridge (not aisle please! If it ain’t in the fridge, it ain’t real cheese! 🙂 )
How to make Creamy Tuscan Chicken Soup
Searing our own chicken makes this soup tastier than just adding pre-cooked chicken into the soup broth. Because colour on the chicken = tastier chicken, and the soup broth gets extra (free!) flavour from the golden bits left in the pot from searing the chicken.
Sear the chicken in the butter, just to get some colour on the surface. It doesn’t matter if it’s not cooked all the way through because after we chop it, it gets added back into the soup. As noted above, cooking our own chicken gets us on the path to a more delicious soup!
Chop the chicken once it’s cool enough to handle. I do this while the pasta is cooking. Don’t worry about raw bits, they will cook through quickly once added back into the hot soup broth.
Sauté the onion, garlic and celery in the same pot using the residual butter.
Broth & pasta – Deglaze the pot by simmering the white wine rapidly until reduced by half. Deglazing just means to dissolve the chicken-searing golden bits on the base of the pot into the liquid for extra flavour in the soup broth.
Pasta – Once the broth is brought back up to the boil, add the pasta and cook it for the time per the packet directions (10 minutes for the small shells I used).
Chopped chicken – Once the pasta is in, I chop the chicken then just add it into the broth about halfway through the pasta cooking time.
Thicken soup – Mix together the cornflour/cornstarch with a smidge of water then stir it into the soup broth. We only use a bit of cornflour because the soup gets thickening help from the gluten in the pasta and the cream.
Soup finishes – Then stir in the parmesan, follow by the cream and spinach. Once the spinach has wilted, which should only take a minute or so, the cornflour will have thickened the soup. And that’s it – ready to serve!
Sun dried tomatoes – Chop sun dried tomatoes into scattering-size-pieces.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with sun dried tomato and a little drizzle of the oil from the sun dried tomato jars (love how the red looks against the white soup). A sprinkle of extra parmesan wouldn’t hurt either. Then dig in!
Pasta soup storage matters!
Pasta loves to absorb liquid. So if you leave the pasta overnight in the broth, it will bloat and become overly soft.
So to store leftovers, it’s best to separate the broth from the pasta. Just use a slotted spoon to scoop out the pasta bits then store the pasta and broth in separate containers in the fridge. They will keep for 3 to 4 days.
Making ahead intentionally
This is a great soup to prepare ahead to reheat later! Just cook the pasta, drain, thicken the soup , then store the chicken with pasta and soup broth separately. They can be refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for 3 months. Reheat the soup broth first, then add the pasta and chicken to reheat. I’ve popped these directions in the recipe card too.
Hope you enjoy! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Creamy Tuscan Chicken Soup
- 500 g/1 lb chicken thighs , skinless boneless (Note 1 for breast)
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
- 30g / 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 large celery stems , finely sliced (sub 2 carrots)
- 1/2 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine, optional (Note 2)
- 4 cups chicken stock/broth , low sodium
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 250g/8 oz small pasta shells (or other small pasta, rice, potato etc – see Note 3)
- 1 cup (tightly packed) parmesan, finely grated or store bought pre-grated (sandy type) (Note 4)
- 1 cup thickened/heavy cream (Note 5 for milk sub)
- 2 packed cups baby spinach , chopped kale or similar
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomato strips , chopped into 1cm pieces, plus bit of oil drizzling (Note 6)
Soup thickener (cornflour slurry):
- 2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water
- Cook outside of chicken – Sprinkle each side with the salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Once foamy, place the chicken in and cook the first side for 3 minutes or until light golden, then the other side for 2 minutes – it's fine if the inside is still raw, it cooks more later. Remove onto a plate.
- Soup flavour base – Turn the stove down to medium low. Add garlic, onion and celery into the same pot then cook for 3 minutes or until the onion is softened.
- Deglaze – Turn up to high, add wine, stir, then let it simmer until the wine reduces by half.
- Broth & pasta – Add stock/broth, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then add the pasta. Cook for the time per the pasta packet directions (~10 minutes), stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the base of the pot.
- Add chicken partway – While the pasta is cooking, chop the chicken into 1.5cm / 1/2" pieces then add into the pot to finish cooking.
- Finish soup – Once the pasta is cooked, turn heat down to low. Stir in parmesan until melted. Stir in the cornflour-water mixture, cream and spinach. Stir for a minute until spinach is wilted and soup thickens slightly.
- Serve – Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with sun dried tomato strips (and a bit of oil looks nice for finishing). Eat!
- Storing – Separate pasta from soup so it doesn't bloat, refrigerate both. Just scoop out with slotted spoon. (Note 6)
More soup love
Life of Dozer
Licking up drips from dirty dishes. He’s such a grot.