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Turn mac and cheese into chicken soup you'll want to eat all year

Rowena Dumlao-Giardina resides in Italy, cooking and photographing her family's interesting meals on Apron and Sneakers. After moving to Italy in 1999 from the Philippines, she has traveled extensively around the country and the rest of ...

Mac and cheese meets chicken soup in this comfort food dish you'll love in all seasons

Mac and cheese is a top-ranking comfort food, and so is chicken soup, right? Combine both, and you've got a delicious kind of comfort food for the whole family.

When I am feeling down and sick, I look for a warm bowl soup — chicken soup, that is. I arm myself with medicines and books (or tablets nowadays) to keep me company, and when mealtime comes, a nice, warm bowl of chicken soup makes everything seem OK. To give the classic dish a bit of a delicious twist, I add some mac and cheese to my favorite chicken soup recipe too. That's also when the kids come in and ask for their share because they love it too. Isn't anything mac and cheese a favorite of all kids?

To give it more flavor, I toast some pancetta (or bacon), discard a bit of the fat and add some olive oil. That way you lessen the fatty taste of the soup. Carrots and celery are my basic vegetable fillers in chicken soup, plus they go perfectly well with chicken. So next time you make yourself chicken soup, add a little bit of a twist, and get a thumbs-up from the kids.

Mac and cheese meets chicken soup in this comfort food dish you'll love in all seasons

Chicken mac and cheese soup recipe

Turn your mac and cheese into a hearty chicken soup with homemade chicken broth. As a shortcut, buy premade chicken broth, and skip to step 4 in the recipe.

Serves 4-6

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken with bones
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, torn in half
  • 2 medium onions, 1 peeled and whole, 1 diced
  • 2 medium carrots, 1 peeled and whole, 1 diced
  • 1/2 cup bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Note: If you are using premade chicken broth, you can skip straight to step 4. Into a large pot over high heat, pour the water, and then add the chicken, whole onion, whole carrot and bay leaves. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and cover. Let simmer for 45 minutes.
  2. After 45 minutes, separate the chicken, discard the carrot, onion and bay leaves, and leave the broth in the pot.
  3. Shred or roughly chop the chicken, and discard the bones. Set the chicken meat aside.
  4. In a large saucepan with tall sides over medium heat, toast the bacon. When cooked through and just toasted, discard the fat, and replace with the olive oil.
  5. Sauté the diced onions, and after 1 minute, add the diced carrots, celery and chicken. Toss together for 10 minutes.
  6. Pour in the chicken broth, and let it boil. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the pasta, and let it cook until al dente. Follow the cook time indicated on the package for the short pasta you are using. Usually it is around 10 minutes.
  8. When the pasta is cooked, add the milk, and then let the mixture boil again. Turn off the heat.
  9. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and parsley, if using.

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More mac and cheese recipes

Philly cheesesteak mac and cheese
Mini mac and cheese pies with Parmesan and pancetta
Decadent crawfish mac and cheese

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