Pack a thermos of Alphabet Soup (with or without chicken), and you can spend school lunchtime spelling out your vocabulary words! Or the names of your friends. Or the ingredients of this familiar, comforting soup.
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Large heavy-bottomed pot
- Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When it is hot, carefully add the oil.
- Add the onion, celery, carrots, and thyme, and cook until the vegetables are starting to soften, stirring occasionally, 10–15 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender and no longer float on the top, about 30 minutes.
- Add the alphabet-shaped pasta and cook until tender, about 8 minutes (or follow the cooking time on the package directions).
- Add the chicken, if using, and stir until heated throughout, about 1 minute. Taste the soup and add a pinch of salt if you think it needs it. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.
• Lemony Alphabet Soup: When you add the stock, add 1 bay leaf and 1 strip lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to remove it from the lemon). Remove both before serving and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
• Herby Alphabet Soup: Instead of the dried thyme, use 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend, or add 1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram), 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary), and teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme). If you’re using dried herbs, add them when you cook the vegetables. If you’re using fresh herbs, stir them in right before serving.
• Garlic-Ginger Alphabet Soup: When you cook the vegetables, add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger and 1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced.
• Curried Alphabet Soup: When you cook the vegetables, add 1 apple, cored and diced, 1–2 tablespoons curry powder, and 1 tomato, diced. Stir in cup unsweetened, shredded coconut and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves just before serving.
• Pesto Alphabet Soup: Just before serving, swirl in 1–2 tablespoons pesto.