Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Coney Island: Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup

My husband and I began dating in college. Once we met, we were instantly inseparable and pretty much spent every waking hour together that we weren’t in class. (And we did find a way to take a couple classes together, even with different respective majors.) On days that we had a short break in between classes for lunch we would grab a bite at a Coney Island that was just a block from campus.

I was some type of vegan or vegetarian at the time, and would order a simple plate of hummus and pita. My husband had his regular order as well, which was chicken lemon rice soup and two “Coneys”. While I’m pleased to say that we’ve since moved up in the world as far as restaurants that we frequent, and our visits to Coney Islands are few and far between. However, my husband will still order chicken lemon rice soup wherever he can find it.

Lucky him, he found it just the other day cooking on the stove in our kitchen! I was flipping through Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave a few nights ago and saw a recipe for this type of soup, but made with orzo instead of rice. The soup is very easy, and he loved, loved, loved it! As soon as he tasted it, he instantly informed me that I would be making it again soon. It has been in our fridge for just about 24 hours, and he has already snuck back with a spoon to sneak a taste several times.

I doubled Ellie’s recipe to have a bigger batch to get through the week. I also skipped her step of cooking chicken breasts, and instead added the (already cooked) meat from a rotisserie chicken at the end. I carefully tempered the eggs in a bowl with the hot broth, not in a saucepan (as the recipe calls for), and I thought that worked just fine. This soup gets thicker with each second you let it sit. My husband likes that consistency, but if you find that your soup has become too thick after a day or so, you can add more broth to it. I also added a few extra tablespoons of lemon juice, to make it extra lemony. Next time I might add some lemon zest too.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo
(From The Food You Crave)
4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
1 pinch salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion , diced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about ½ cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo (preferably whole wheat)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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