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Italian Chicken Lentil Soup

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion -- chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium zucchini -- chopped (2 cups)
4 medium carrots -- sliced (2 cups)
8 ounces dried lentils -- sorted & rinsed (1 cup)
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 ounces sliced mushrooms -- (1 cup)
1 can diced tomatoes -- (28 ounces) undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil -- OR 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
Shredded Parmesan cheese -- if desired


Remove fat from chicken. Mix remaining ingredients except mushrooms, tomatoes, basil and cheese in 3 1/2- to 6 quart slow cooker. Add chicken.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 5 to 6 hours or until lentils are tender and chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

Remove chicken from slow cooker. Use 2 forks to pull chicken into shreds. Return chicken to slow cooker. Stir in mushrooms and tomatoes. Cover and cook on low heat setting about 15 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with basil. Serve with cheese. 6 servings.

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