lovin’ chicken spaghetti

Bawk bawk!

*scatters feed*

Excuse me while I wiggle my wattle and fluff up my feathers. Just exercising a little poultry pride, cause I finally made Chicken Spaghetti!

See, when I first came online in 2007, reading all the cool kidlit blogs and learning who’s who and what’s what, having an inkling that I’d somehow like to stir in a few vittles with my books, the blog, “Chicken Spaghetti,” caught my attention right away. I learned it was written by Susan Thomsen, who once worked for the New Yorker, published this most excellent article about Poetry Friday with the Poetry Foundation, and eventually went on to also blog for PBS Parents’ Booklights. And yes, dang it, she lived with two chickens (and two cats and a snake)!

I’d eaten a lot of chicken dishes in my time, but had never heard of Chicken Spaghetti — *pause while 80% of Americans gasp* — not once. You’d think since I live in Virginia (and by all accounts, CS is a Southern dish), someone, somewhere at sometime would have mentioned it. Or brought it to a neighborhood potluck, anything. But lo and behold, I remained a Chicken Spaghetti virgin right here for close to 30 years. One could say I’d never been plucked. Till now.

*prance, peck, preen*

Shortly after discovering Susan’s blog, I promised myself I would try her recipe, cause it’s pretty much my job to investigate these things and make the necessary sacrifices on your behalf (hee!). You know, just in case you’re a CS virgin too.☺

I’ve since learned it’s quite the beloved casserole, comfort food at its easiest and most satisfying, forgiving when it comes to variations and experimentation. Key ingredient? SOUP! Cluckity cluck!

We’ve all grown up with cream of mushroom soup something — throw it into tuna casserole, pour it over pork chops, an easy way to make scalloped potatoes. Susan’s recipe calls for cream of mushroom and cream of celery (isn’t she brazen?), with black olives and pimiento. I don’t know, whenever I hear the word, “pimiento,” I feel I should don a smoking jacket.

Not having one handy, I wore my “Babette Eats Oatmeal” black t-shirt, polka dot capris, green Merrell clogs and set to work. The recipe suggests using a pre-cooked deli chicken as a shortcut, but I felt it would be easier to poach a couple of breasts rather than debone an entire chicken. Once you chop up the onions and peppers and pre-boil the pasta, you pretty much just combine everything and then bake.

Just in case you’re wondering why Susan named her blog Chicken Spaghetti, here’s what she said:

I love that casserole; there are many versions. When I first thought of starting a blog, I was going to devote it to the various incarnations of the casserole but realized that would get boring fast. When I was growing up, chicken spaghetti, always served with spinach/mandarin orange salad (with poppyseed dressing), was a popular ladies’ lunch at church and such. I kept the name when I decided to write about books because it was kid friendly and reminded me of my Southern childhood.


1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
3 T butter
1 chicken, cooked, deboned and diced (grocery store deli chickens work great)
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) cream of celery soup
1 jar (2 oz.) pimiento, drained
1 jar (2-1/2 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained and chopped (I sauté fresh ones)
1/2 can (6 oz.) black pitted olives, drained and chopped
1 package (16 oz.) long spaghetti, cooked
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375. Sauté onion and bell pepper in butter. Then pour in the soups, pimientos, mushrooms, chicken, olives, and spaghetti. Season with the seasonings. Put the melange into a large casserole dish. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until cheese is nice and melted.


Yum! This is a big recipe and we enjoyed the leftovers for days (of course there’s just two of us here, but if you have a big family, it’ll probably disappear instantly). Make it soon if you haven’t tried it yet — will really hit the spot on a cool Fall day.

♥ Check out some variations on this recipe here.

♥ Some of my favorite posts from Chicken Spaghetti: her famous “Best of” Book Lists, Poetry Friday, and her musings about real chickens! I think she lives with three chickens now: Lovey, Queen Elizabeth III, and Loretta Lee II.

Lovey, Queen of the Coop

Thanks so much Susan (pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep)!

Imagine that! Now I can say I’ve made Chicken Spaghetti’s Chicken Spaghetti! I’ve finally arrived, y’all . . .☺


Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

21 thoughts on “lovin’ chicken spaghetti

  1. I love Chicken Spaghetti’s blog and I too wondered about the name–I thought it was like those weird rock groups or scrapbook paper companies that combine two nouns (Mustard Moon, Cosmo Cricket, those are paper companies).

    And here is a southern dish I didn’t know about! It’s enough to make me slap my grandma! But this looks really good. I think I’ll try with with the pre-cooked chicken (I’m lazier than you). Thanks for the new recipe!


  2. Jama, you are too funny! This is the ultimate complement to THE RECIPE and the blog. I am so happy that you enjoyed the casserole; it does make a lot!

    We are down to one chicken (but not because they went into the casserole), and hope to replenish the flock soon.


  3. Ok, while I admit that I’ve never heard of Chicken Spaghetti, I have to say that it sounds almost exactly like Turkey ala King, which would make this Chicken ala King, I suppose. 🙂 But, otherwise, the flavors sound very very similar. And tasty.


    1. Similar, but not quite. Chicken/Turkey a la King is made to be served over rice, pasta or biscuits, while Chicken Spaghetti is a casserole where all ingredients are baked together. Also, CAK doesn’t call for olives or cheese. 🙂


      1. A friend up here on the East Coast says that she grew up eating a similar casserole but her mom called it turkey tetrazzini. I haven’t compared recipes, tho!

        Love seeing that pic of the late Lovey on the blog here. She did not make it through the terrible heat wave we had in July. She was such a sweet, kooky hen. We miss her!


      2. Sorry to hear about Lovey!

        I’ve heard of turkey tetrazzini, but never made it. Will check the recipe. Interesting to compare all these similar versions.


  4. I’ve never had chicken spaghetti, either, and have thought of making it ever since I first read Susan’s blog. Your photos are definitely encouraging me along.


  5. Okay, don’t tell me WP is going wonky on me. Trying a second time to post a comment:
    Wow! I’d never heard of chicken spaghetti! Thanks for sharing! (And I’m totally envious that you have a Babette Eats Oatmeal” shirt!) xo


    1. Susan has the recipe posted on her blog, so it was only a matter of asking permission, which she graciously granted. 🙂 You have to admit, it’s a great name for a children’s books blog!


  6. How funny – as much as I love Susan’s blog, I’ve never tried this! I’ll have to come up with an alternate version – we don’t have Campbell’s soup here – but looks yummy like comfort food.


    1. Well, it took me four years to finally make CS, although I was curious from the beginning. I’ve seen recipes using only cream of mushroom soup. What would you substitute for the chicken?


  7. Confession: I’ve never had CS either. SOooooo…I guess I know what’s for dinner later this week, now that you-know-who has paved the way once again!

    And btw, I’m with you on poaching 2 chicken chests rather than deboning the whole bird.


    1. Perhaps Chicken Spaghetti should be the official kidlitosphere dish. All bloggers should be required to make it at least once and post their reactions and results :).


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