My Mother’s Chicken Escarole Soup

A family tradition, I have made this soup for Thanksgiving dinner going on 30 years.  It is inspired by the soup my mother always made for the holidays when we were growing up.  Over the years I’ve added a few extra touches that make it my own, and most recently it has been adapted to be gluten free.  This recipe serves a crowd so you will have plenty for your family dinner plus leftovers.  Of course, you can easily cut it in half (photos are for a half recipe) but I promise you are going to want leftovers!

Serves 20-25.

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  • 4-5 Chicken Leg Quarters (or you can use drumsticks and/or thighs)
  • 2 Sweet Onions
  • 1 lb. bag of Carrots
  • 1 bag Celery 
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 cup gluten free beef stock (optional but very good)
  • 2 cartons (32 oz.) gluten free chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Sage
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • Generous pinch of Saffron
  • 1″ knob of fresh Ginger root, minced
  • 1 head Escarole, trimmed and washed
  • 12 oz. gluten free soup pasta
Get it here!


2 Days Before:

In a large stockpot brown the chicken in 1 tbsp. olive oil, about 5 minutes each side.  Do it in batches so that each piece gets evenly browned.  Remove chicken from the stockpot, pour out the fat and wipe clean.  Return chicken to the pot and add 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 1 medium onion, quartered.  Add ½ tsp pepper and 2 bay leaves.  Cover with water, bring to a boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for at least 3 hours.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or plate.  It should be falling off the bone tender.  Discard the bones and skin and chop the meat into bite size pieces.  Refrigerate the chicken in an airtight container until the day of serving.  Let the stock cool to room temperature then refrigerate overnight.

1 Day Before:

Remove the stock from the refrigerator and skim all fat from the top.  Discard the bay leaves and all of the vegetables.  Strain the chicken stock through a fine mesh sieve, or colander double-lined with cheesecloth into a clean bowl or measuring cup.

Dice 6-8 carrots, 6-8 celery stalks, and one large onion.  Try to cut the pieces to approximately the same size.

In a clean stockpot, sauté the vegetables in 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the strained chicken broth, and the beef stock (you won’t taste the beef, but it really does add another level of flavor to chicken soup).  Top with more chicken broth as needed.

Mince 6-8 garlic cloves, and all of the ginger root (about 2 tbsp.).  Add to the pot with one large pinch of saffron threads, 1 tsp. each of ground sage and thyme, and salt to taste.

Cover and simmer on low 2 more hours.

Remove and discard the outer leaves of the escarole, then tear the leaves into large pieces and rinse thoroughly.  To this day I can still hear my mother telling me to wash the escarole “leaf by leaf”.

When the soup is done, turn off the heat and add the escarole to the pot.

Escarole cooks quickly, and the residual heat is enough to wilt the leaves.  Stir well, cover the pot and let it cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate overnight.

Day of Serving:

Gradually warm the soup on low heat.  Ladle 1 cup of broth into a small saucepan and whisk with 2 tbsp. corn starch.  Once it has thickened, add the cornstarch mixture back into the soup and stir to combine.  Add back all of the reserved chicken meat to the pot.  Do not let it come to a boil or the chicken will shred into ribbons!  In a separate pan cook ¾ lb. of gluten free soup pasta such as orzo or ditalini according to package directions.  I was really lucky to find gluten free Acini de Pepe, the traditional pasta used in this soup.

Drain and rinse the cooked pasta and add it to the soup.  Taste to see if more salt or pepper is needed and keep warm until ready to serve.  Serve with grated cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

As I make this soup each year it brings back childhood memories of my Italian family gathered around the holiday table.  Start your own family tradition with this wonderful soup that is sure to become a favorite part of your special meal.

The Lazy Gastronome


Notes: ♪♫ Gluten free soup pasta is not readily available where we live.  If you are struggling to find a gluten free pasta for your holiday soup, here are a few links that I hope you find helpful!  Use what you have and don’t be afraid to improvise.  Whenever I buy gluten free pasta, I save the little broken pieces in the bottom of the box and use them for soup!

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Pumpkin Soup with Carrots and Parsnips

Tis the season for all things pumpkin!  This pumpkin soup is so aromatic and naturally sweetened with the addition of carrots and parsnips.  A wonderful fall soup, it is ready in under an hour so you can easily fit it into your schedule.  A great make ahead recipe for your Thanksgiving table!  I made a small batch for the two of us, but you can easily double or triple the recipe.

4 Servings

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  • 1/4 medium sweet onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic, (1 tsp.)
  • 1 small parsnip, peeled and diced (1/2 cup)
  • 4 small carrots, peeled and diced (1 cup)
  • 2-1/2 cups gluten free chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)
  • gluten free bacon for garnish (optional)


Prep the vegetables before you begin.  Dice the onions, carrots and parsnips and mince the garlic.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan or stock pot.  Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.

Add the carrots and parsnips and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

When the onions are beginning to caramelize, you will see a bit of browning in the bottom of the pot, like this.

Add the broth, pumpkin puree, garlic and all of the seasonings.  Cover and simmer on low 45 minutes.


While the soup is simmering, toast pumpkin seeds and cook bacon for serving.

When the soup is done, the veggies should be very soft.  Use a stick blender to puree to desired consistency.  You can make it as smooth or as chunky as you like.

Serve with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and bacon (I used turkey bacon).

Notes: ♪♫ For convenience I used canned pumpkin in this recipe.  I’m sure that making your own would be divine!  Always check product labels for gluten containing ingredients.

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Gluten Free Roast Turkey Gravy

Will you be calm and composed on the day of your big holiday dinner?  Make ahead recipes are a great way to reduce stress and help you stay organized as you get that amazing meal on the table.  Start with a Gluten Free Roast Turkey Gravy that you can make ahead and freeze.  Forget skimming the pan drippings and fussing over a roux.  This is much easier and there will be no last-minute gravy fiasco.  You’re welcome.

The Lazy Gastronome


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Yield: 3 Cups of Gravy


  • 2 turkey drumsticks, large thigh or wings
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 carrot
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. corn starch
  • 32 oz. carton gluten free turkey stock or broth


Preheat the oven to 400º.  Heat the olive oil in an oven proof skillet.  Add the turkey, vegetables and thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning the turkey once.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Remove the turkey from the pan and reserve for another meal.  Sprinkle the vegetables with corn starch and whisk for 30 seconds.  Continue whisking as you drizzle in the turkey stock.  Be sure to get all of the browned bits up from the bottom of the pan, they are full of flavor!

Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

Look how the color has developed, from pale to beautiful golden brown!

Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and discard the vegetables.  You should have about 3 cups.

After years of fumbling around with pan drippings I now prefer this make ahead recipe.  It is quite possibly the best turkey gravy I have ever made.  Mine is tucked away in the freezer now, and I will defrost it the night before Thanksgiving.  Just reheat to a low simmer before serving.

Notes ♪♫ This recipe was easily converted to gluten free by substituting corn starch for flour.  For the turkey stock, I like Kitchen Basics or Pacific Foods.

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