Despite the dozens of varieties of canned soups available at grocery stores, nothing beats a batch of homemade soup cooked in your kitchen. Homemade soups are made with fresher ingredients, are more nutritious and generally have less salt than canned varieties.

Homemade soup does not have to be boring! Instead of the traditional chicken noodle or vegetable beef soups, there is no end to the creativity you can put into play when cooking up a big pot for dinner.

The bit of cold weather that came through the last week or two gave me plenty of time to research and experiment with new recipes. As someone who enjoys a good Reuben sandwich, throwing all the Rueben ingredients into a soup seemed ideal. This soup is a modified version of a French onion soup - with sautéed onions, broth and broiled cheese to give the soup a rich flavor.

With the addition of a bit of corned beef and rye bread instead of French bread, the flavor changes and gives new life to this old and boring French onion soup.

Chicken soup can be bland and boring as well. So it was time to find something with a bit more zip than chicken and noodles or chicken with wild rice. While looking around for a twist on that “dull” chicken soup I ran across several recipes for a Chicken Mediterranean soup.

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Although the recipes had the same name, they were all just a bit different. Some called for rice, others pasta; some used an ample sprinkling of Greek seasoning, while others relied on the more traditional basil and thyme. All did seem to have the common ingredient of olives, though even that varied between black, Greek and green olives.

Combining some of the recipes and adding a few twists of my own, I came up with my own version of Chicken Mediterranean soup. The best thing about this soup is it used what I had on hand and did not require a special run to the store. For my version I used rice, but that could be replaced with pasta if that’s what you have on hand. Several recipes I saw called for chicken breasts, but chicken thighs or even leftover chicken could be used.

There is nothing better after being outside on a brisk fall day then walking into a warm house and being hit with the enticing smell of a big batch of homemade soup on the stove. Forget opening up a can, take a bit more time and create a masterpiece your whole family will enjoy. Happy Eating!

Make a batch of Mediterranean Style Chicken Soup in your own kitchen on a crisp fall or cold winter day. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent
Make a batch of Mediterranean Style Chicken Soup in your own kitchen on a crisp fall or cold winter day. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent


Mediterranean Style Chicken Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium sized sweet pepper - green, yellow or red - coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jarred garlic
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/3 cup long grain rice
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon savory
  • 4 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken (thighs or breast) or use leftover chicken
  • ½ package (5 to 6 ounces) frozen green beans
  • 1/3 cup olives, black or green
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

If using chicken breasts or thighs, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium sized skilled. Warm to medium heat. Add the chicken and cook just until the chicken is browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the remaining olive oil in a large stock pot or 5-quart Dutch oven. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 10 minutes until slightly softened. Turn the heat to low. Add the pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, another 10 minutes, just until all vegetables are softened.

Stir in the tomatoes, including their juice, the water, bouillon cubes and rice. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the basil, savory and carrots. Let the mixture boil gently for 30 minutes. Test the rice and carrots; if not done, let the mixture boil for another 10-15 minutes until the rice is cooked and the carrots are softened.

Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the chicken, green beans and olives. Cook until beans are tender, approximately 10 minutes. Season with pepper and serve immediately.



Reuben Soup

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices rye bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jarred garlic
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ pound corned beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces sauerkraut
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • Croutons
  • ½ pound shredded Swiss cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Place a large pot on the stove and bring to medium-high heat. Add half the bread cubes and 2 tablespoons olive oil and stir until well coated. Keep stirring and cook until golden brown. Remove and place in a bowl and set aside. Cook the remaining cubes and add them to the bowl once browned.

In the same pot, heat 2 more tablespoons oil over medium-low. Add onions and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots, garlic and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add the ½ cup water and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the corned beef, sauerkraut and heavy cream; bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in parsley; taste, and if desired add a bit of salt and pepper.

Place the soup into oven proof bowls on a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan with sides. Top with prepared croutons and a generous amount of cheese. Place in the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

If you do not have oven proof bowls, place soup into a microwavable bowl, top with croutons and cheese and place into microwave. Microwave for 30-second intervals until the cheese is melted.

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