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Seasonal Recipes

Napa Valley chicken and vegetable soup with croutons

(Brian Whitmer)
March 14, 2012
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Serves 6

Simmer a colorful blend of finely chopped vegetables, including red bell pepper and corn, with tomatoes, white beans, and spicy chorizo sausage. Ladle the soup over escarole that has been sauteed in garlic, then top with golden corn bread croutons. The recipe comes from Brian Whitmer, chef of VINeleven restaurant in the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa.


1 1/2  pounds chicken necks and backs 

3  quarts water 

1 1/2  pounds chorizo sausage, removed from casing 

2  tablespoons olive oil 

1  onion, finely chopped 

4  carrots, finely chopped 

4  stalks celery, finely chopped 

1  red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped 

2  cups frozen corn kernels 

3  cloves garlic, finely chopped 

 Salt and black pepper, to taste 

1  cup chopped canned tomatoes 

1  can (15 ounces) white beans, drained 

1  tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 

1  bay leaf, broken in half 

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. In roasting pan, place the chicken bones. Roast the bones for 1 hour or until golden brown.

2. In soup pot, combine the water and bones. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Set aside to cool. Strain into a bowl. Refrigerate until chilled.

3. Skim off and discard the fat from the stock.

4. In soup pot over medium heat, cook chorizo, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Discard fat in the pot.

5. Add the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, corn, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans, oregano, bay leaf, and chorizo. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes.

6. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and set on the cover askew. Simmer for 45 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.


1  corn bread (8-inch square), cut into 1-inch pieces 

1  tablespoon olive oil 

1  clove garlic, finely chopped 

2  medium heads escarole, torn into 2-inch pieces 

 Salt and pepper, to taste 

3  scallions, finely sliced 

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees.

2. Spread the corn bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast the pieces for 10 to 12 minutes, turning several times, or until golden.

3. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the escarole, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until it wilts (it should be bright green).

4. Divide the escarole among 6 shallow soup bowls. Ladle soup into each one. Sprinkle with scallions and corn bread croutons.

Allison Boomer. Adapted from Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa

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