Chicken and Vegetable Soup

1½ to 1¾ lb. chicken 2 breasts or 1 large green chile or jalapeño, chopped
   4 thighs, skinned and boned 1 medium zucchini, chopped
½ of 20-oz. package 16-bean combo ¼ to ½ cup minced garlic
¼ cup lentils 3 Tblsps. salt (or to taste)
¼ cup barley 3 Tblsps. pepper (or to taste)
4 medium potatoes, diced 3 Tblsps. Italian seasoning (or to taste)
2 small onions, chopped 14 to 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 large carrots, chopped 14 to 15-oz. can cut green beans
4 celery stalks, chopped 14 to 15-oz. can whole kernel corn
½ medium cabbage, chopped 7-oz. package alphabet (or any) pasta
optional vegetables: split-peas, asparagus, broccoli, acorn squash, bok choy

Pour 1 gallon of (hot) water into a large (2-gallon) pot, and place the pot on high heat to boil.  Rinse the beans in a colander, and then pour them into the boiling water.  While the beans are boiling, begin slicing the chicken (into bite-sized, no-fat chunks) and dicing and chopping the vegetables.

After the beans have boiled for about ½-hour, add the lentils, barley, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, and cabbage.  Reduce the heat one notch, and continue chopping the remaining vegetables.  Stir the soup every 15 minutes (so that none of the ingredients will stay on the bottom too long and burn).  Add more (hot) water if too much boils off.

After another ½-hour of boiling, add the chicken, remaning raw vegetables, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Boil for about another 45-minutes, stirring every 15 minutes and adding additional (hot) water if necessary.  Add diced tomatoes, green beans, corn, and pasta; bring back to a boil, and boil for 10-15 minutes more.  This makes about 2 gallons of soup.  Serve soup with hot cornbread.

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