Orzo, Lemon and Chicken Soup

soup with lemon, eggs, orzo, spinach and lemon

There is something so refreshing about adding lemons to any dish or dessert.  You definitely cannot be sad when eating anything where the lemon shines through.  The tart nature of the fruit forces your mouth to smile and kicks your taste buds into gear.  And what is more comforting than a bowl of chicken noodle soup?  I really cannot think of anything except maybe my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven.  Lemon, chicken, noodles and a boost of extra flavor, color and vitamins from some added spinach.  A comforting hug on a cold day.

This recipe has been adapted from one of my favorite soup cookbooks: New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker and Clara SilversteinCheck out their location in Newton, MA http://newenglandsoupfactory.com/

Orzo, Lemon and Chicken Soup

(Serves about 6)

1 package skinless, boneless chicken thighs

olive oil

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried garlic

salt and pepper

10 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup orzo

4 eggs, lightly beaten

zest and juice from 3 lemons

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2-3 dashes Tabasco Sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

 

  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and lightly spray with cooking oil.  Lay chicken thighs flat on prepared pan.  Rub the tops with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle the dried parsley, garlic and some salt and pepper on each one.  Bake the chicken thighs until cooked through for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cook to room temperature.  Chop chicken into bite size pieces and set aside.

  Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large stock pot.  Add the orzo and cook for five minutes.  While stirring constantly, drizzle in the eggs and continue stirring for about 30 seconds, until the eggs cook into threads.  Add the lemon zest, juice cooked chicken and spinach.  Season with Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces.  Heat through.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. 

 

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Chicken and White Bean Chili with Green Onion and Parmesan Crostini

White bean chili with chicken sausage and parmesan crostini

If you are looking for a hearty soup that is not too heavy, this one is the perfect solution to your problem.  Browned ground chicken and onions with all the spices you love in a good, stick to your ribs chili.  Cannellini beans and Swiss chard give this soup and Italian twist.  Top it off with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.  An untraditional crostini with green onions, chive, cream cheese and more Parmesan bring it all together into a satisfying meal.

The first time I made this was in 2012 when I saw an episode of Giada De Laurentiiis’ cooking show on the Food Network at that time.  She also served it with a crostini but I cannot seem to find that recipe, so I had to riff on it, instead.  Everytime I make this easy to put together soup and bread combination, I get rave reviews.  I should take this one out more often!

Chicken and White Bean Chili

(serves about 6)

(adapted from White Bean and Chicken Chili by Giada De Laurentiis, 2012)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ground chicken or turkey or a combination

1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 teaspoons chili powder

3 tablepsoons flour

2 (15 oz. cans) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch (about 1 pound) swiss chard, stems removed, chopped to 1 inch pieces

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

black pepper

Parmesan cheese

chopped parsley

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds.  Add the ground meat, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, oregano, and chili powder.  Cook, stirring frequently until the meat is browned and cooked through about 8-10 minutes.  Stir the flour into the meat mixture.  Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn and chicken stock.  Bring mixture to a simmer, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Simmer for about 50-60 minutes until liquid reduces and the chili is thickened.  Add the red pepper flakes, taste for seasoning and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Green Onion and Parmesan Crostini

1 (8 oz block) cream cheese, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 green onions, diced

2 tablespoons chopped chives

12 slices baguette, on the diagonal for more surface area

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat boiler in oven.  In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, salt, pepper, green onions and chives.  Spread mixture on one side of each slice of bread.  Place bread on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle each slice with Parmesan cheese, making sure it adheres to cream cheese mixture.  Broil bread slices for 2-4 minutes until cheese melts and turns brown on edges.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Chicken Italian Sausage and Zucchini Soup

soup with chicken Italian sausage and zucchini

Last week, a high fever ran rampant through our house.  It threatened to derail all holiday tasks and planning.  Thankfully, I had already made this soup.  The tender chunks of zucchini, zesty tomato base and filling chicken sausage made it the perfect antidote to my sickeness.  My eleven year old preferred gingerale and nutella on crackers to combat his cold.  That’s o.k.  I was so sick, I didn’t even get mad at him for refusing to even try it.  I ‘m glad to have had plenty of this soup to heat up and eat in my bathrobe while I wished my cold away.

All I could think about was how much I still had left to do: the holiday baking, shopping, wrapping and don’t forget all the driving.  It seems my kids are doing just about everything possible at this point in their lives.  It’s good that they are busy and happy to participate in all manner of activities from tap dancing to travel basketball.  But all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch Iron Chef.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

I am on the mend now and able to document the recipe that brought me back to the living.  The original source is from and incredible cookbook called, Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst.  I changed up a few things.  Mainly the sausage: I used chicken and could not find hot Italian chicken sausage at my local market.  Instead, I used some Italian chicken and cheese sausage and chicken and kale sausage.  It worked.  I also added a parmesan rind to the soup as it simmered to add some richness to the broth.  Fresh basil at this time of year is pretty rough, if you can find it at all in a New England supermarket, so I opted to leave it out.  Here is my version of “Hope’s Italian Sausage-Zucchini Soup”.  I hope you make it in good health.

Chicken Italian Sausage and Zucchini Soup

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

total 16 oz. chicken sausage: Italian, Cheese, or any type you like, casings removed

1 small onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves minced

sea salt

black pepper2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon sugar

2 lbs. zucchini, diced

3 large celery stalks, diced

1 large yellow or orange pepper, diced

2-4 cups chicken stock

pinch of red chili flakes

parmesan rind

garnish: parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high.  remove the casings from sausage and add to warm oil.  Cook sausage, breaking up pieces as it browns.  Once the sausage is cooked through, add the onion and garlic.  Turn heat to medium low and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Add the tomatoes, parsley and sugar.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the zucchini, celery, yellow/orange pepper, chicken stock, chili flakes and parmesan rind.  Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

To serve: ladle into bowls and top with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle

soup with carrots, chicken, noodles and Asian flavors

I’ve made a version of this soup before.  This Asian Chicken Noodle has a little more kick and depth of flavor from cooking the chicken in the pot first.  But like most soups, anyone can adapt it to whatever their personal tastes are or what needs to be used up in the pantry.  It’s a good soup to make when you are feeling a little down from holiday stresses.  Right now, everyone, it seems has a cold.  I had a lingering sore throat for weeks.  Hoarse every night after projecting my voice in the school lunchroom ( read: shouting).  It wasn’t until after I took the advice from a colleague to employ the old school treatment of gargling multiple times a day with warm salt water that I was finally cured.  Of course, the soup helped by soothing my throat and warming up my aching bones with its spicy notes of ginger, Sriracha and Thai red curry.  Whatever your December malaise or Holiday woe, this zippy soup will be sure to pick you up so that you can keep going.

 

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

water

1 red pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

8 cups chicken broth

1 chunk of fresh ginger (about 2 inches)

4 teaspoons Sriracha

1/4  cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 lime)

4 teaspoons red curry paste

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

3 oz. uncooked wide rice noodles (flat)

garnishes: grated fresh carrot, cilantro, lime wedges, Sriracha, green onions

Season chicken on both sides with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Heat a large soup pot on medium high.  Add the oil.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken.  Allow to sear on one side until the chicken releases from the pan.  Flip the chicken and sear for another 4-5 minutes until the second side releases from the pan.  Add 3 tablespoons-1/3 cup water to the bottom of the pan to loosen chicken bits and juices.  Turn heat to simmer, cover and cook chicken for 10 minutes, until just cooked through.  Remove chicken and juices to a dish and cover with tin foil.  

Add peppers to soup pot.  Turn heat back to medium high.  Saute peppers until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken broth and all seasonings through cider vinegar.  Shred chicken and add back to pot along with any accumulated juices.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 6 cups of water to a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add rice noodles.  Cook 3 minutes, then drain.  Place about 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of rice noodles in each serving bowl.

Taste soup and adjust seasonings.  Ladle soup over each noodle serving.  Serve with garnishes on side.

 

Southwestern Chicken Soup

soup with chicken, cheese and southwestern flavors

I really wanted to make chicken tortilla soup.  A hearty tomato based soup thickened with tortilla chips.  Filling and you guessed, it fattening.  But oh so delicious!  After doing a little internet research snuggled up with my cup of coffee and my phone early one  morning, I came across The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup.  No tortillas or taco chips in it.  Huh?  What do I know about Southwestern cooking, anyway?  Not much, except that I like it.  And I liked her basic list of ingredients, most of which I used in the recipe below.  But I forgot to put it in the slow cooker. Or I didn’t have enough time to do it in the morning before I left for work.  Still the recipe I came up with didn’t take long, at all.  And I preferred that I browned the chicken first.

I gave the soup to my soup ladies and they all loved it…especially that it was much lower in calories than what I usually make.  I ate all the leftovers myself, adorning each bowl with the entire list of suggested garnishes.  When there was only a tiny amount left, I poured it on a pile of tortilla chips and pretended that it was a plate of fancy nachos.  Whatever your taste, however you decorate your bowl, this recipe is a winner.

 

Southwestern Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 taco seasoning pouch, I use McCormick

1 medium sized onion, diced

1 red pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 4 oz. can diced green chilis

4 oz. tomato paste

3 cups chicken stock

1 chili in adobo, chopped

2 16 oz. cans black beans

salt and pepper

garnishes:

lime wedges, sour cream, grated cheddar, diced jalapeno, cilantro, tortilla chips

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Coat chicken breasts with taco seasoning and add to pot.  Cook until chicken is browned on both sides.  Lower heat and add diced onion and remaining taco seasoning.  Stir to combine.  Cover pot and allow onions to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add chopped peppers, chili powder and cumin.  Stir to combine and cook uncovered for up to ten minutes until the peppers begin to soften and spices are fragrant.  Add tomatoes, green chilis, tomato paste, chicken stock and chili in adobo.  Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.  

Remove chicken from soup and shred with forks into large pieces.  Add the chicken back to the pot.  Drain and rinse black beans and add to soup.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.  Serve with garnishes.