Top | Canal House Cooking, Vol. 7

Christmas Soup

(recipe, Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hirsheimer)

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This lovely soup is a traditional holiday primo. Escarole is one of the cold-weather lettuces with the good bitter flavor that Italians love. We toss it in salads, sauté it in olive oil, and simmer it in broth — as we do in this soup.


  1. 1 chicken (3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
  2. 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  3. Peel of 1 lemon
  4. 2 bay leaves
  5. Salt
  6. 10 black peppercorns
  7. 1 bottle of white wine
  8. Freshly ground black pepper
  9. 2 heads escarole, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch strips
  10. Parmigiano-Reggiano


  1. Arrange the chicken legs, thighs, wings, and back in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the fat and juices have been released, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the onions (keeping them intact), lemon peel, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and the peppercorns. Place the breasts on top. Add the wine, then enough water to cover everything by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and barely simmer the broth. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Cover with the lid slightly ajar.
  2. After the broth has simmered for 20 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and set aside on a plate to cool. Continue cooking the broth for 40 minutes. Remove the onions, taking care to kept them intact, and set aside on a plate. Remove the chicken parts from the pot and set aside on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones. Discard the bones.
  3. While the chicken cools, strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Wash out the pot and pour the broth back in. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the escarole and cook over medium heat until it wilts, 5 minutes. Serve the chicken, onions, escarole, and broth in warm wide soup bowls with lots of grated Parmigiano.