Hearty Italian Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Total Time:
45 min
20 min
25 min

6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 whole sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 (3-inch) strips lemon zest, cut from 1 lemon
  • 1 small head fennel, thinly sliced (2 cups), fennel tops reserved
  • 1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • A 2-3 inch piece Parmesan rind, optional
  • 2 carrots, sliced (1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced (1 cup)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups, whole-wheat extra-wide noodle style pasta, 2 3/4 ounces (recommended: Ronzoni Healthy Harvest) **recommend just using 2 3/4 -ounce weight
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus extra for passing
  • Lemon juice

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onion and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the onions begin to soften, 5 minutes. Meanwhile, tie the parsley sprigs, lemon zest, and fennel tops together. Add the herb bundle, broth, 2 cups of water, and, if using, the cheese rind. Bring to a very gentle simmer and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones in large strips, and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, add the sliced fennel, carrots, and celery to the broth and season with salt, to taste. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are just tender, 5 minutes. Stir in the noodles and cook until just al dente, about 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved chicken, baby spinach, and Parmesan until the chicken is heated through and the spinach is wilted. Discard the herb bundle and cheese rind. Stir in lemon juice, to taste. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve with additional Parmesan for passing.

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Nutritional analysis per serving, 2 1/3 cups

Calories 261; Total Fat 6g (Sat Fat 1.5g, Mono Fat 3g, Poly Fat 1g); Protein 31g;

Carb 23g; Fiber 4g; Cholesterol 54mg; Sodium 402mg

This chicken soup is packed with zesty rich flavors and lots of good for you vegetables. By enhancing prepared low-sodium broth with lots of herbs and lemon and fresh chicken you get a soup that tastes like you simmered it all day long.

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    27 Reviews
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    Very good. I cooked the pasta on the side and added it to individual servings. I used less broth and no water.
    Best chicken soup ever!
    It was delicious!
    Delicious! Didn't have baby spinach so used fresh kale instead. Just needed to cook a  
    little longer. Also didn't add fennel,wasn't available . Still so good!
    This soup was so good and so healthy. I ate it for three days while recovering from a bad chest cold. It was very easy to make, I will definitely make this again.
    My husband loves this soup, and it's easy to make.
    I don't usually like the majority of soups, mainly because I only tend to like eating things with bold or spicy flavors. I am sick today, so what the heck. I'm also a beginner cook and this was a fairly easy recipe that thankfully I pulled off! So other than a few variations, I liked the flavors in the recipe - the fennel, lemon, chili flakes. Farfalle (bowtie pasta worked well for me with the texture/size of the veggies. I did add a nice bit of salt and only used the parm as a garnish. I let the soup sit for about a half hour before adding the spinach, parm, & separately cooked noodles.
    Awesome, I'll definitely make it again. I used boneless/skinless chicken thighs that cooked up perfectly. 
    I thought it was bland. It needs salt and a lot of lemon
    This was delicious! My family loved it, even my extremely picky 5 year old! Great way to get some healthy foods in the whole family! I did have to cook the chicken a lot longer than what was suggested.
    This soup is wonderful! The lemon is such a nice touch, really brightens the dish. Poaching the chicken definitely needs to be longer than 8 minutes, that is not enough time to cook thoroughly.
    Super easy and very delicious. I wanted it more like a stew so I only added 4 cups of broth and 1 cup of water. I also cooked the chicken and noodles seperately. This soup has endless possibilities. I added mushrooms, corn and potato to it as well, just to make it more of a meal.
    Recipe was ok. I thought the fennel taste was overpowering. If I made it again, I would cut the fennel or reduce it by half.
    I thought this soup was good as a healthy and hearty soup. However, if you find yourself adding a lot of extras like Parmesan, croutons, etc as I did then you probably needing another recipe. I didn't think it had enough flavor even adding the extras but it's hard to make a flavorful healthy soup.
    thought the recipe was excellent. I agree with the first review that there are some steps missing in the recipe. Easy fix though. 
    Next time i won't add the parm rind because it left melted cheese on the bottom of my pot. i'll only use the grated parm as a garnish. I added a couple of pinches of salt and pepper to adjust the seasoning for me. No harm since we used low sodium broth. 
    i added sausage tortellini's instead of the noodle. the spiciness of the meat added another welcome flavor layer. 
    i also used a 1/2 of cooked chicken instead of the breast meat, only because that is what i had on hand. It still tasted great. 
    next time i might try kale as an alternate to the spinach. But the spinach did taste great. 
    i got a pizza dough from my local pizza joint and baked it with rosemary, sea salt, and evoo; quick and easy fresh bread to serve with this excellent soup. 
    i'll make it again for sure.
    My family and I LOVED this dish. Yummy!
    Very good! Liked the lemon and the fennel-can taste both in the end result. Could not find fennel -so just sprinkled a little minced fennel seeds into the soup. Also the crushed red pepper flakes gives it just enough Zing! Loved it-ate it without the noodles. Usually use escarole in my soup-the spinach is just as good. Will definitely make again.
    I love this soup! I am usually not a soup lover, but decided to try this as I am trying to find ways to use up my left overs and what i have on hand (to reduce food waste. I made this soup for lunch yesterday and it was very simple, delicious and fairly quick to make. I added extra noodles to "beef" it up as I usually find soup to be less satisfying as a meal. I also added a handful of homemade croutons to the top. Wonderful soup!
    This is a Favourite Chicken Soup. I eat this 5 out of 7 days a week for Lunch or Dinner. Really. Light on kcals,robust in Flavours.Yes,I do skip the "parm" only because this has enough aromatics already.I feel Good eating this Hearty Soup and sometimes a very light Meal follows if for Lunch. Highly recommend.
    This was delicious & so easy! The fennel added such a great flavor. My whole family enjoyed it!!
    Made it last night for dinner. What a great soup. Used homemade chicken broth and followed the recipe pretty much as written (unusual for me and loved it. Had it again for lunch today. This will be a new favorite soup.
    Fennel was unexpectedly awesome in this recipe. I used chili paste from tube in place of dried chili flakes! Yummy!
    Very tasty. Very simple. You can tweak the types/amounts of vegetables. I added garlic. Overall, this is a great hearty soup without being heavy.
    Lovely recipe, and not to mention, so easy! I tweaked the veggies to those I like (no fennel, added a bit more parmesean and it was perfect. Next time I think I'll try white beans instead of pasta for even more of a healthy punch--such a nice flexible recipe!
    This soup was absolutely delicious! I highly reccomend it to anyone and everyone!
    This is a nice variation on standard chicken soup. The red pepper adds just a nice, little hint of heat. There are 1 or 2 steps missing from the recipe, but nothing that you can't just fill in for yourself. If anything, I would add a little more cheese, just for some saltiness since it's a low sodium broth. Will definitely make again!!
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