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Food The Bite:

Nonna’s Chicken Soup

Nonna’s Chicken Soup
Just like Nonna’s

When I was a little peanut home sick from school, my Nonna always cooked up a batch of this cold-curing chicken soup. I can still remember the aroma wafting into the living room as I reclined on the sofa watching Gilligan’s Island. Now, when my own little peanut is sneezing, I make it for him, and—even when everyone is healthy—it’s a perennial favorite. Like most soups and stews, it tastes even better the next day and freezes well, making it a super-convenient weeknight meal. The recipe isn’t particularly fussy, but there are two non-negotiables: Always cook and store the pasta separately, so it doesn’t turn to mush in the soup, and don’t forget to pile on the pecorino—just like Nonna always did for me!

Recipe from Cook Beautiful

Nonna's Chicken Soup

Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful


Serves 6-8

1 whole chicken
1 bone-in chicken breast (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 yellow onions, 1 diced, 1 halved
5 or 6 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
5 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 medium parsnips, chopped
2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly cracked pepper
1 pound dried acini di pepe pasta, or another small pasta such as tubettini, orzo, or ditalini
1 small handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
Grated pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving


Place the whole chicken and breast in a large stockpot. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, parsnips, stock, salt, and 2 cups water—or enough to just cover the chicken. Season with pepper. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, covered, until the chicken begins to fall off the bone, about 1½ hours. Using tongs, remove the chicken pieces, onion halves, and thyme sprigs. Discard the chicken bones and skin, then tear the meat into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot. Taste for seasoning. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. To serve, place a heaping spoonful of pasta into individual bowls and ladle the soup over the pasta. Sprinkle it with parsley, pepper, and a hearty helping of cheese, and serve with lemon wedges on the side. Leftover soup (without the pasta) can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days. The soup can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

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