I always think of January as soup month. Apparently, it is actual National Soup Month. Soup is so warm and comforting, and it is really simple to whip up a delicious pot of flavor. Sometimes I go for a hearty, thick and creamy soup, but a lighter version always fits in with those forts of the year pledges to get healthy. This soup is a nice bright bowl of sunshine in the dreary winter days. White beans add heft and protein.
Fennel and leek keep things fresh and green and lemon and dill are a fantastic partnership. Dice the vegetables finely so they easily fit on a spoon. I love that Meyer lemons add lots of lemon flavor with less sharpness, but you can use regular lemons, just start with a smaller amount and add to taste. I love tiny small white beans (Goya is a reliable brand) but regular cannellini beans will work. I add a dash of turmeric for color, but it is purely optional. You could sprinkle some grated parmesan over this, but I love to serve it with a simple piece of toasted bread – the good stuff.
Lemon, Dill and White Bean Chicken Soup
2 chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon butter
1 fennel bulb, finely diced
1 leek, white and light green parts, finely diced
4 cups chicken broth
Juice of 2 meyer lemons (about ¼ cup)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 (15 ounce) can small white beans, rinsed and drained
¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°. Let the chicken breasts cool slightly, then finely chop or shred.
Melt the butter in a large pot then add the fennel and the leeks. Cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft and glassy. Pour in the chicken broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the dill. Stir in the turmeric if using. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the white beans and the chicken. Simmer until heated through.