- 2 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 pound)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Peel of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered with root end attached
- 2 bay leaves
- About 1 quart water
- 2 large or 3 to 4 medium leeks
- 6 slices good quality lean bacon or a 4-ounce hunk pancetta, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup gemelli pasta or short cut fusilli pasta
- A handful fresh dill or parsley, finely chopped
Place the chicken, wine, lemon peel, onion and 1 bay leaf in a small pot. Add about 1 quart of water or enough to cover the top of the chicken meat, bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and gently poach until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cool the chicken until it is easy to handle, then dice or shred. Strain and reserve about 5 cups of the poaching liquid.
Trim the leeks and halve lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch half-moons, wash in the sink or large bowl filled with cold water. Dry the leeks on a clean kitchen towel and reserve.
Heat about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges, 3 minutes, drain off fat. Cook's Note: If there's more than a couple of tablespoons in the pot, then add 1 bay leaf, carrots, celery, leeks, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook 12 to 15 minutes covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and tomatoes burst. Add the cooked chicken, stock and reserved poaching liquid to the soup, heat through then cool completely and cover, store for make-ahead meal.
To reheat the soup: Place the soup in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then add the pasta and cook to al dente, stir in the fresh herb of your choice and serve. If the soup is too thick, add a little water.