I was going to talk about dessert. Sorbet, to be precise. After all, that’s a relatively “healthy” dessert for January, right? But then things got cold. Not just “grab a hat and gloves” cold, but ridiculously cold. I’d almost call it “not fit for human life” cold, except that I know there were parts of the country that had it worse. My thermostat may have read -17, but I talked to people who saw -27. And that was before the wind. Like I said. Ridiculous.
So yeah. No sorbet today. Even though the temps are practically balmy by comparison (31 degrees, anyone?), I’m not really feeling a frozen dessert. Let’s talk about soup instead, OK?
Everyone needs a favorite chicken soup, right? It’s the perfect winter pick-me-up. It’s good for whatever ails you. And if you’re lucky, it won’t require massive amounts of planning ahead or hours of simmering for the flavors to meld. In fact, I can run errands after work and still come home with enough time to make this for dinner. How’s that for efficiency?
What sets this soup apart from other chicken noodle soups is the lemon flavor. With both fresh lemon juice and zest, it has a bright, fresh taste that most other chicken soups don’t. I have noticed, however, that the orzo acts like a million tiny sponges in the broth, which means that more often than not, we have leftover lemon-chicken-orzo casserole, rather than soup. It works out OK though – Andy likes the casserole consistency of the leftovers, and I just add a little extra water to my share before microwaving it.
Take that, polar vortex. 🙂
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4″ circles
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 chicken breast, diced (or two cups of cooked, shredded chicken)
10 cups of chicken broth
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1-2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1 cup frozen peas
large handful chopped fresh parsley (feel free to substitute dried if necessary)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the pot. Place the chopped chicken into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute until chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken chunks. (Skip this step if you’re using already cooked chicken, obviously.) Remove chicken from pan and reserve for later.
Pour remaining olive oil into the hot pan. Saute the onion, carrots, garlic and celery in the oil until the vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Pour the broth and lemon juice into the stockpot. Add the lemon zest and bay leaf and bring the mixture to a boil. When the mixture reaches a boil, add the orzo and simmer until the pasta is nearly done, about 8 minutes.*
Stir into the cooked chicken, and then add the peas and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaf before ladling into bowls.
*Side note: In my attempts to avoid lemon-chicken-orzo casserole, I’ve cooked the pasta separately and then stirred it into the individual soup bowls. As far as I can tell, this works, but it’s an extra step, and like I said before, I’m all about efficiency. 😀
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod
Click here for a printable version.