Slow Cooker Chicken Vegetable Soup

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 to 1.5 pounds)
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups frozen vegetables (red bell pepper, zucchini, squash, carrots)
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes (or sweet potato)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 – 425 grams can diced tomatoes
1 – 425 grams can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of chicken breasts, dividing evenly. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chicken breasts to skillet and cook for 6 to 7 minutes on each side until chicken is browned and cooked through. Allow the chicken to cool and shred the chicken. Transfer chicken to slow cooker.
To slow cooker, add onion, frozen vegetables, butternut squash, tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano and pepper flakes. Stir to combine and nestle rosemary and thyme on the surface. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Remove and discard rosemary and thyme from soup. Stir basil into soup, saving some for garnishing (if desired).

Serve immediately or transfer to a large bowl, cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings

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