This is one of those times where a dish came out way better than I imagined it would. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but wow, is this good. So comforting! I kept making “mmm” noises like a cartoon character while eating this and yes, I admit, I ate a second bowl.
This is a one-pot dinner. What’s not to love there? It’s pretty quick to make. I’d say about thirty minutes, although I wasn’t paying attention to the time. First you brown seasoned chicken, then you sauté carrots, onions, celery, add a bit of garlic, add in some chicken broth, milk, cream, and *wait for it* a little bit of cheddar cheese. I know! It’s the secret ingredient and it gives this soup incredible flavor.
There isn’t even a ton of cheddar in the soup – just 2 ounces, which is half a cup once you grate it – but a little goes a long way. You can absolutely taste the cheddar. It makes this soup so special. I used sharp Tillamook cheddar; you want a cheddar that will melt really well (not an aged crumbly one).
Just when you think the soup can’t get any better, you add the cutest little ditalini pasta and simmer it covered until the noodles are done. Wilt down spinach and you’ve got chicken, veggies, and noodles in one fabulous, flavorful dish!
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound chicken tenders (or chicken breast)
Sea salt, pepper, paprika, dried oregano
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk (I used a2 brand 2% milk)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 oz cheddar cheese
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups Ditalini pasta
2 cups fresh spinach
- Cut chicken tenders into small pieces and season well with sea salt, black pepper, paprika, and dried oregano. I never measure. Just season each piece thoroughly, turn the tenders over and season the other side.
- Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add chicken and cook over medium heat until browned on both sides. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Lower heat slightly and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add celery, onion, and celery and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook for two more minutes. While your veggies are cooking, grate the cheddar. You should have 1/2 a cup. (But honestly, I won’t judge you if you use more!)
- Add chicken back in, then add chicken broth, milk, heavy cream, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and add cheddar cheese and ditalini pasta. Cover and let simmer for about eight minutes, stirring occasionally. (You don’t want the pasta to stick to the bottom!)
- When pasta is done, add two cups of fresh spinach and cover. The steam should wilt the spinach down in just a few minutes. Stir in the wilted spinach, then serve with crusty bread. Delicious with parmesan or cheddar on top!
Note: the noodles will absorb the liquid as it sits. If you want a thinner soup, feel free to cook the noodles separately and add them to individual bowls. Personally I love a hearty soup! To reheat leftovers if you cooked the noodles in the soup, just add more chicken broth and milk, reheat on the stove, and adjust the seasonings to taste.
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