I saw this recipe described as “Southern Italian Chicken Soup” and re-named it. Normally I take a pass on soup recipes… but this intrigued me. Southern Italian? Like Sicily or Apulia? No! Southern, like south of the Mason Dixon Line! Mind you, I grew up with chicken soup being referred to as “Jewish penicillin”! This recipe was worth a look-see. Definitely an irregular verb by any standard reference point chicken soup recipe… whether it be the foundation of matzah ball soup, or in tortellini en brodo. The sub-text: “This simple pasta dish gets some savory Southern flare with the addition of okra and black-eyed peas. In just under an hour, this succulent soup comes together for a flavorful autumn or winter favorite.” OK. I’m game… although my timeline for prep and cooking always goes beyond the suggested times noted.
And for wine I took a similar departure from the familiar and chose a wine from Sunset Meadow Vineyards: the Vidal Blanc ’19. Located in Goshen, CT this winery sits on a soft hillside surrounded by their estate vineyards (some 50 acres worth). I love the place. A very hospitable tasting room, and more to the point, I enjoy dipping my toe into varietals that carry a “northeast” mindset – like Vidal Blanc and Cayuga White. I usually hit the winery once a year to lay in a mixed-case of their white wines. For those of us who are used to the European vinifera varietals, it’s a great change of pace. Further, the wine has a spirit of irreverence that seemed in tune with a cockamamie chicken soup recipe.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards Vidal Blanc ’19 (Goshen, CT)
Vidal Blanc is a cross breed of Ugni Blanc and Seibel that develop high sugars enabling the grapes to ripen fully in cooler climates. The 2019 offers clean fresh fruit flavors, soft and bright on a medium-bodied chassis, the wine finishes perfectly dry with good acidity to cleanse the palate.
“IRREGULAR VERB” CHICKEN SOUP
6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
1 large onion, diced
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
6 cups chicken broth
1 can (15.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
4 skinned and boneless chicken breasts
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 cups sliced fresh okra
1 can (15.5 oz) black-eyed peas, drained & rinsed
1 package (9 0z) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
fresh shaved, or grated parmesan cheese
1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size. Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming. Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!
2. In a Dutch oven, sauté onion, celery, carrots & garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender.
3. Stir in broth, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning & crushed red pepper flakes and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, pound chicken breasts to an even width. Cut into 1” pieces, season with salt & pepper. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick skillet and lightly brown the chicken pieces over medium high heat. About 5 minutes on each side.
5. Add okra, black-eyed peas & chicken to the Dutch oven. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until the okra is tender.
6. Add the tortellini, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes.
7. Serve with parmesan.
n.b. I love this dish! Unlike irregular verbs… of which there are far too many, and forever vexed me in the attempt to learn French. My first working name for this dish was “Curve Ball” Chicken Soup. Either name is better than “Southern Italian Chicken Soup.” I will definitely add this recipe to my cool weather dinning rotation.