Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup is my ode to a childhood favorite of my son. One of the convenience foods in a can; we sometimes would make when he wasn’t feeling well. The combination of a flavorful broth with tiny chicken meatballs, chunks of chicken, carrots, celery, and little pearl pasta that came together on a cold day to warm his little belly beautifully.
Chickarina Soup has sometimes been confused with Italian Wedding Soup; however, other than a few similar ingredients such as the meatballs and such, it’s apples compared to oranges in an Italian-American household. I will say both are equally delicious and perfect for eating on a cold day winter day.
One of my favorite ingredients in this Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup is the light, airy meatballs. Looking on the web, many of the bloggers went through Heaven and Hell to find the right consistency and texture of the meat to make them light, airy, and floatable. I am one of the lucky ones because, over the years, I have made Italian wedding soup for years and knew how to get my meatballs on point without all the unnecessary steps. Thank you, Nonna Josie.
The secret behind the bouncy meatballs isn’ the ingredients; it’s the method you use in cooking them. Most people will treat them as they would ordinary meatballs; however, the idea is to treat them entirely differently to meet that light airy and floaty texture. Instead of frying or the baking, the chicken meatballs until cooked, you are instead going to drop them in boiling seasoned chicken broth until they are done. The texture is perfect!
I like using a homemade seasoned chicken broth in my Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup. Still, you can also substitute an organic seasoned low sodium broth in yours and adjust the salt and seasoning if need be. I usually make roasted chicken reasonably often, so I make homemade seasoned broth and freeze it in portioned containers to use in soups or meals requiring chicken broth.
Feel free to use the leftover white chicken meat for those bite-sized chunks of beef in the Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup to save time; you can also use a roasted chicken from the local market to save time if you don’t have leftover chicken breast meat. Free-range all-natural, never antibiotics, and steroid free chicken meat is the best option to buy if you are making it fresh. I know I preach organic and all-natural Y’All, but it’s just so much better for you and your little ones.
Disclaimer: Hey Y’all, I am sure you already know this, but this recipe is in no way the real method that Progresso uses, it is just my version and a Copycat recipe for Progresso’s Chickarina Soup. I have not been sponsored or paid by anyone to do this post. I am just sharing one of our favorite homemade versions of this remarkably delicious convenience food.
Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup Ingredients
chopped fresh Italian parsley
grated pecorino romano cheese
crushed Ritz crackers, about 12
One head of garlic
One large egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 of a cup diced yellow onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
8-10 cups chicken broth
dried Italian seasoning
freshly ground black peppercorns
Israeli pearl couscous, cooked
chopped fresh parsley
Frequently asked questions
What is Israeli Couscous? Israeli couscous, aka pearl couscous—is often thought of as a whole grain. However, it’s a type of pasta made from semolina flour and water.
What can I substitute for the Israeli couscous? In a pinch, you can use orzo or ditalini pasta; it will slightly change the recipe and cooking time.
I don’t have yellow onions, what can I use instead? My second choice in a bind would be to use white onion instead.
Can I use ground turkey instead of ground chicken? You can. However, the taste will not be the same as the copycat recipe.
Shouldn’t I precook the meatballs before adding them to the broth? There is no need to precook them; they will cook in the broth perfectly.
What does one head of garlic mean? It is the entire bulb of garlic.
Can I use an off-brand of crackers instead of the Ritz crackers? Sure, use a comparable brand to the Ritz crackers.
Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1/4 of a cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1/2 of a cup crushed Ritz crackers about 12
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg white lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped matchstick carrots
- 1/2 of a cup diced yellow onion
- 1/4 cup finely diced celery
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 8-10 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon of dried Italian seasoning
- Kosher salt to own taste
- freshly ground black peppercorns to own taste
- 1 and 1/2 cups uncooked Israeli pearl couscous cooked
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- In a medium glass bowl combine ground chicken, chopped Italian parsley, grated pecorino Romano cheese, crushed Ritz crackers, minced garlic, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lightly beaten egg white. Form into tiny to small-sized meatballs ( the mixture will be sticky so rinse hands if they start sticking to you or you having a hard time forming them.
- Meanwhile, place a Dutch Oven over medium heat, add unsalted butter, matchstick carrots, diced yellow onion, and finely diced celery sauté until softened yet still firm-about 5-6 minutes. Add homemade chicken broth or store-bought low-sodium broth to the Dutch Oven, raise heat to high and let broth begin to boil.
- Once the broth has started boiling you can begin to carefully drop the meatballs in the broth, do not disturb them for about 5 minutes, turn and reduce heat to low. Add Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper to your own taste. Let cook on low for about 20 minutes before adding the chopped fresh parsley and cooked Israeli couscous to the Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup. Let the soup sit for about 8 minutes before serving for the Israeli couscous to absorb the other flavors.
- Ladle the Copycat Progresso Chickarina Soup into your favorite serving bowls and serve while still hot with oyster crackers or a nice crusty bread
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