Hearty Slow Cooker Chicken Soup, Plus Sandwiches

Enjoy two meals from one—Chicken, Rosemary, and Farro soup today and flavorful Chicken, Olive, and Red Pepper sandwiches tomorrow
Chicken, Rosemary, and Farro Soup and Chicken, Olive, and Red Pepper Sandwiches


When the weather took a turn from summer to late fall practically overnight it got me thinking about comfort food. And what’s more comforting than a hearty chicken soup? Even though the weather may warm and cool again on its course through the busy fall season, an easy recipe—and one that sets you up for two meals—is a welcome option.

If kids are in the picture and doing distance learning or a hybrid of some sort, your “office hours” may extend into the evening. While we love supporting our local restaurants, we can’t have takeout every day, and so easy, approachable meals like this come in clutch—especially when one recipe makes enough meat for two separate meals.

In this recipe by Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, which appeared in Real Food, the slow cooker is the perfect way to cook chicken breasts to buttery softness and make a savory soup at the same time. (You will need a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker for this since you are making extra chicken for sandwiches.) Then—bonus—you have enough meat cooked and ready for your easy second meal of flavorful sandwiches for lunch or dinner the next day.

Chicken, Rosemary, and Farro Soup

Makes 4-6 Servings Soup and Chicken For 4 Sandwiches

6 chicken breast halves if ¾ pound each or 4 chicken breasts if 1 pound each; skinned and on the bone
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ cup farro (See Cook’s Note)
2 stems fresh rosemary
1 large lemon, zest pared off
2 large bay leaf
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Strip all the skin from the chicken breasts and discard. In a large slow cooker, put the onion, carrots, celery, farro, rosemary, lemon zest strip, bay leaf, wine, and stock. Place the chicken in the pot bone down, and press to submerge as much as possible. Cover the pot and cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 7 hours.
  2. Uncover the pot and carefully transfer the chicken to a large bowl. Remove and discard the rosemary, lemon zest, and bay leaf. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull 4 cups of it for the chicken sandwiches and reserve by placing in a sealed container or plastic bag in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Pull the rest and shred and tear into bite-sized pieces, and return to the soup. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook’s Note: Farro is an Italian variety of wheat available whole or pearled. Either will be delicious in this recipe. Whole farro will be firmer, and pearled will be softer.

Chicken, Olive, and Red Pepper Sandwiches

Makes 4 Large Sandwiches

Now that you have the chicken prepared, you can dress it up with a few easy ingredients for a sandwich you’ll look forward to all morning. Or, it could be a quick-and-easy dinner.

4 6-inch hoagie rolls or 1 wide baguette cut in 6-inch pieces
4 cups cooked pulled chicken (from Chicken, Rosemary, and Farro Soup recipe)
¼ cup olivada or other black olive paste (See Cook’s Note)
1 cup (7.5-ounce jar) roasted red pepper, drained and patted dry
2 cups fresh salad spinach
4 ounces sharp provolone or aged Asiago, sliced thinly

  1. For sandwiches, slice the rolls or baguette pieces in half and pluck out a bit of the bread to make a trough in each half.
  2. In a bowl, toss the chicken with the olive paste. In each sandwich, place cheese slices, red pepper slices, ¼ of the chicken mixture, and spinach. Close the sandwich and wrap tightly or secure with toothpicks.
  3. If desired, put the sandwiches in a panini grill to toast and heat through.

Cook’s Note: Black olive paste is a flavor-packed spread and gives a sandwich instant oomph. If you can’t find it, you can mince and crush ½ cup kalamata olives with 1 clove of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil or substitute olive tapenade.

Nutrition info (per serving)
• Chicken & Farro Soup: Calories 272 (48 From Fat); Fat 5g (Sat. 1g); Chol 70mg; Sodium 203mg; Carb 23g; Fiber 4g; Protein 33g
• Chicken Sandwiches: Calories 669 (181 From Fat); Fat 21g (Sat. 8g); Chol 135mg; Sodium 1094mg; Carb 58g; Fiber 3g; Protein 60g

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.