This Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup is bursting with the fabulous flavors of Italy and is chocked full of healthy veggies, lean chicken and ditalini pasta for a delicious splurge. It comes together easily and makes great leftovers!
The minute the calendar flips to September, I start thinking about soup. Here in the mountains of North Carolina, the nights are getting cooler and we're spotting patches of ruby and golden-hued leaves in the forest surrounding us. Our local grocery store's shelves are brimming with Halloween candy and the produce bins are now featuring pumpkins, pears and a plethora of gnarly winter squash. It's definitely time to enjoy soup! This Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup is loaded with late summer produce like onions, carrots, bell peppers and lots of fresh herbs. It's a perfect way to say, "Hello Fall!"
I wanted to make this Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup super easy so I employed rotisserie chicken in the recipe instead of starting from scratch with a whole chicken or chicken parts. I love to pick up a couple of rotisserie chickens when I'm at Sam's Club or Costco and stash a few in the freezer. I'll pull one out at night and in the morning it's ready to use for sandwiches, pizzas, wraps and SOUP!
Chop, chop, chop!
This Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup recipe calls for onion and bell peppers to be "diced small" which means about ¼-inch pieces. That could take some serious time but I make short work of just about any kind of chopping with my Vidalia Chop Wizard. This little kitchen workhorse is quite indispensable in my kitchen. I've used this type of chopper for years and would hate to be without one. Whenever Scott hears the "whack", "whack", "whack" of the chopper, he knows there's something delicious in the making!
Lots of layers of flavor
Chicken soup can be a little bland, but not this Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup! Besides being loaded with lots of healthy veggies and lean chicken, this soup is bursting with delicious flavor. This is how we build the layers of flavor:
- Chop the onion small and sauté it in olive oil to bring out the sweetness.
- After the onion is nice and soft, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, two types of paprika (sweet and smoked) are added. Sweet paprika doesn't add a ton of flavor but gives the soup a nice deep color. Smoke paprika adds a mysterious, almost imperceptible, but super delicious element.
- The fragrant mixture is cooked until the tomato paste is deliciously caramelized and the paprika and herbs are "bloomed".
- Next comes another flavor bomb, prepared pesto is added along with low sodium chicken broth. Pesto has lots of fresh basil, garlic, parmesan and pinenuts and adds a fabulous layer of flavor!
- Fire-roasted diced tomatoes come next which add tons of wonderful flavor. Fire-roasted tomatoes are simply tomatoes that have been, as the name suggests, that are charred over a flame before they're diced and canned. The charring deepens the flavor, bringing out the tomatoes’ sweetness and imparts a touch of smoky flavor... a wonderful shortcut to more flavor!
- Bell peppers in two hues add delicious flavor and pretty color to this soup.
- Just a touch of brown sugar mellows the acid of the tomatoes and brings all the flavors together.
- Bay leaves release additional flavor as the soup simmers. Remove them before serving.
- Finely chopped fresh basil and rosemary are the crowning glory for this flavorful Italian soup!
Put this Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup on your must-make-soon list! The recipe makes a large quantity so you'll have leftovers for lunches or quick, nutritious meals on the run. It's perfect to have on hand for those busy weeknights when there's no time to cook dinner. Just pop it in the microwave or reheat it on the stovetop for a super delicious meal in a bowl!
Cafe Tips for making this Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup
- This recipe calls for rotisserie chicken breast. You can also use leftover chicken. A combination of white and dark meat chicken is also fine, if you prefer.
- A typical grocery store rotisserie chicken yields about 2 cups of diced chicken breast. If you purchase one from Sam's Club or Costco, it's closer to 3 cups as the chickens are larger.
- This recipe calls for Ditalini pasta. Ditalini is a small tubular pasta that is classically used in Italian soups. You'll find it at most larger grocery stores in the pasta section and it's readily available online.
- I like to cook the pasta separately while the soup is simmering, If you cook the pasta in the soup, it absorbs a lot of the broth and you'll probably need to add a lot of extra broth, which can dilute the flavor of the soup.
- Feel free to switch up the ditalini pasta in this Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup. I would stick with a small pasta though like Acini de Pepi or pearl couscous or orzo.
- This recipe calls for prepared pesto. When purchasing pesto, look for a fresh green color. Both Costco and Sam's Club both have large jars of bright green pesto available in their refrigerated sections. I keep pesto in the freezer to add flavor to lots of dishes. You can divide it into one to two tablespoon portions and freeze in ice cube trays or small containers. I just pop the whole jar in the freezer. When I want to use it, I pull it out and let it sit at room temp for a few minutes then scoop out the amount I need and return the rest to the freezer.
- The Italian Chicken Vegetable Soup recipe calls for 12 ounces of carrots. I like to use the baby carrots that come in a bag, already peeled for easy convenience. You can also use regular carrots peeled or just scrubbed - your preference. 12 ounces is approximately 5-6 average size carrots.
- Serve this soup with some warm crusty bread for a delicious meal. We love to pair it with this Ridiculously Easy Rosemary Bread or this No-Knead Brioche Bread but any of the easy bread recipes in this post would be great with this soup.
Thought for the day:
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion diced small
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika (optional) *see notes below
- 1 tablespoon mild paprika
- 8-10 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 14.5-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
- 12 ounces carrots thinly sliced (about ¼-inch thick)
- 1 red bell pepper diced small about ¼-inch dice
- 1 large yellow bell pepper diced small
- ¼ cups prepared basil pesto
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 medium bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (if using regular chicken broth, decrease the salt to 1 teaspoon)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1½ cups dry Ditalini pasta
- 2-3 cups rotisserie chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves packed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- shredded Parmesan cheese for serving optional, for garnish
In a large heavy-duty soup or stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, paprika and smoked paprika and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomato paste deepens in color and the mixture is very fragrant.
Add 8 cups of the chicken broth, the fire-roasted tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, pesto, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir to combine then bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat to maintain a low but steady boil for 20 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil. Add the ditalini (or pasta of your choice) and cook for the length of time specified on the pasta box or package. (Ditalini is usually about 10 minutes for al dente pasta.) Drain well, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and stir to coat the pasta and keep it from sticking together.)
When the soup has finished cooking, remove the cover and add chicken and the cooked pasta. Finely chop the basil leaves and add to the soup along with the fresh rosemary. If the soup seems too thick, add more chicken broth. Taste the soup and add more kosher salt, if needed.
Serve topped with shredded or shaved parmesan cheese (optional) and more fresh basil leaves for garnish, if desired.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
This soup reheats well in the microwave or on the stovetop.
*Some readers have loved the taste of the smoked paprika and some not so much. To me, it adds a nice depth of flavor BUT, if you're not a big fan of smoked paprika, either start with 1 teaspoon or omit it all together. The soup will still be delicious!