Italian Chicken Stew

italian_chicken_stew.jpgThis chicken stew is hearty fare with tomatoes, kidney beans, carrots, celery, onion, and basil. You may want to add more broth for a more soup-like consistency.

2 tbs. olive oil
2-3 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 carrots, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
1 onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can can low-salt chicken broth
½ c. fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1 ½ pounds total)
1 can organic kidney beans, drained

Heat the oil in a heavy 5 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion. Sauté the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the chicken breasts; press to submerge.
Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken breasts over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken breasts to a work surface and cool for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the kidney beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew consistency, about 10 minutes.
Discard the skin and bones from the chicken breasts. Shred or cut the chicken into bite- size pieces. Return the chicken meat to the stew. Bring the stew just to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle the stew into serving bowls and serve with bread

Derived from Giada De Laurentiis (food network)