chicken minestrone

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped 
  • 400g thinly sliced flat pancetta (see tip) 
  • 1 x 1.6kg chicken
  • 6 sprigs thyme 
  • 1 sprig rosemary 
  • 2 fresh bay leaves 
  • 3 litres water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 x 400g can cherry tomatoes 
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper 
  • 2 bulbs baby fennel, chopped 
  • 100g spaghetti, broken into small pieces 
  • 1 zucchini (courgette), sliced 
  • 100g cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) leaves, torn
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, half the carrot, half the celery and half the pancetta. Cook, stirring, for 4–5 minutes. Add the chicken, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1½ hours. Strain, reserving the stock and the whole chicken.
  2. Shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Return the stock to a clean saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining celery and carrot, the fennel and pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and chicken and cook for a further 2 minutes or until warmed through. 
  3. While the soup is cooking, heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the remaining pancetta and cook, turning, for 5 minutes or until crisp. Set aside. 
  4. Add the cavolo nero to the soup and cook for 1 minute or until just wilted. Divide the soup between bowls, top with the crisp pancetta and sprinkle with salt and pepper to serve. Serves 4–6. 

Tip: You can find flat pancetta at delicatessens and some butchers. Ask them to slice it thinly for you.

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