2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut into bite size pieces
1 carrot peeled, cut into bite size pieces
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14-1/2 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 (14 oz.) can low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 Tblsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1-1/2 lbs. total)
1 (15 oz.) can of organic kidney beans, drained (rinsed if not organic)
Heat the oil in a heavy 5-1/2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion. Saute 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, thyme. Add the chicken breasts; press to submerge.
Bring the cooking liquid to 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 occassionally, 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 stew consistency, about 10 minutes.
Discard the skin and bones from the chicken. 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 good crusty bread.
So here are my variations: I doubled the recipe. I used a whole chicken instead of just breasts. I let the dark meat cook a little longer than the breasts. I used chopped tomatos with jalapeno and chopped tomatos with sweet onions and garlic. I used both kidney beans and a can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) I drained and rinsed both. I didn't have fresh basil so I used dried. The last thing I did different was to throw in some fresh mushrooms!