If you’ve been following this blog, you know I love soup (check out my post, “Hey Raleigh, Soup’s On!” about some of my area favorites, or just search under the heading “Soups and Such” under my recipe category.)
The other day chicken thighs, lemons and fresh baby spinach were all on sale, so I decided to make lemon chicken soup with spinach and orzo. You can certainly use chicken breasts instead of thighs — pick up a roasted chicken at the grocery store (Harris Teeter has them on sale on Sundays) to make things even easier. If you don’t have any orzo on hand, rice works just as well.
This aromatic soup brightens up any cold and dreary winter day, but is also good year round. There’s just something about the combination of lemon and chicken (and lots of ground black pepper, too) that makes a great marriage of flavors. The lemons make this chicken soup so fresh, and if you’re like me, one bowl will not suffice!
Ingredients (10-12 servings)
- 1 cup of orzo pasta
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup of celery, diced medium
- 1 cup carrots, diced medium
- 1 ¼ cup sweet onion, diced small
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 32 oz. chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, diced small
- Sea salt to taste
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 4 to 5 chicken thighs, bone in (I removed most of the skin before cooking)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 lemon, zested
- 3 to 4 oz. fresh baby spinach
- Lemon slices for garnish
Boil the orzo in a large pot of salted water for 5 minutes. You want the orzo to be cooked some, but not soft. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Sauté the celery, carrots, onion and garlic for 4 or 5 minutes, until they start to become tender.
Deglaze the veggies with the sherry and then mix in the stock, water, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and parsley. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, add them to the broth, bring the pot to a boil and let simmer until the chicken has cooked through (about 20 minutes or so, until the juices run completely clear.)
Remove the chicken and let it cool. In the meantime, let the soup simmer on low. Shred the chicken, removing any fat and bones. I use my handy-dandy Pampered Chef salad chopper, which all kitchens should have as it’s great for more than just lettuce.)
Return the shredded chicken to the soup pot. Add the orzo, lemon juice and zest, and simmer for 5 more minutes or so.
Add the baby spinach and simmer until it has wilted. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
Garnish with lemon slices.
Serve this with some crusty bread and a nice tossed salad. Or do like I do, and just have several bowls in one sitting.
This will last for a couple of days in the fridge (unless you go on a soup binge!) but you may need to add some water to it as the orzo will puff up some.
Eat, drink and be merry!
Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelscafe