Fresh peas are one of spring’s great pleasures. In this bright and silky chicken soup, their verdant green adds a pop of color and little bursts of flavor throughout. I love the way they look with fregola sarda, a toasted semolina pasta from Sardinia shaped like tiny balls.
Rather than simmer the chicken breasts in the broth, I roasted them with lemon and thyme, which added convenience and flavor. To garnish, drizzle with fruity olive oil, sprinkle with fresh mint and parsley, and shower with parmesan.
Spring Chicken Soup with Peas & Fregola
makes 4 to 6 servings
2 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 tblsp fresh thyme leaves, finely minced
1/2 cup fregola sarda
3 spring onions, white and pale green parts only, finely chopped (or 2 shallots, minced)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup fresh shelled snap peas
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tblsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tblsp fresh mint, minced
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, lemon zest, and thyme. Roast until cooked through, about 35 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and trim any cartilage. Use your hands to shred the chicken.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente, according to the instructions. Drain, drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside.
3. While the chicken is roasting and pasta is cooking, add 2 tblsp olive oil to a large Dutch oven, or other heavy-bottomed sautee pan, and set over medium heat. Add the spring onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and the carrot and stir for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring it to a simmer.
4. After about 15 minutes, once the carrots are tender but not mushy, add the fresh peas, the shredded chicken and the juice of one lemon. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for another 10 or 15 mintues, until the peas are tender but still snap.
5. Place a few tablespoons of fregola at the bottom of each bowl, then divide the soup into bowls, drizzle with some olive oil, and crack some black pepper over the top. Sprinkle with the minced parsley and mint. Generously shower with fresh grated parmesan.