Mediterranean Chicken, Chickpea, Lentil, and Rice Soup

Many years ago when I was sick, a friend sent me containers of delicious chicken soup from the New England Soup Factory. It was just what I needed on my road to recovery. Several years later the restaurant published its own cookbook and it's become my go-to resource whenever I want to make soup.

This recipe is a modification of one of my favorite soups from this cookbook. The original recipe uses dried chickpeas and I use canned. I also replaced dried marjoram for dried oregano, primarily because this is what I have in my pantry. And finally I added rotisserie chicken to bump up the protein and make the soup a meal.

The nice thing about this soup is you can adjust based on what you have. I've added the odd parsnip or potato if I have it in my vegetable drawer. Sometimes I've used fresh cilantro or thyme. So have fun and modify this recipe to your taste and pantry.

On a cold winter's day I like to make multiple soups. Some freeze very well, like carrot soup, and the others will last me through the week. It makes for a productive day and I don't have to go outside into the cold.

Mediterranean Chicken, Chickpea, Lentil, and Rice Soup

Inspired by the New England Soup Factory Cookbook

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
3 ribs celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced into disks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
I teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
⅓ cup dried lentils
⅓ cup basmati rice
3 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
Chopped fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese to serve, optional

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and crushed red pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté  for  another 10 minutes - vegetables should be soft, not browned.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, bay leaves, stock, and water.  Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the lentils and rice. Cover and simmer for another 35 minutes. In the last 5 minutes add the chicken to warm through.

Remove the bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well before serving. Top with parsley and parmesan cheese if desired.