Wednesday, April 17, 2013

lemony chicken noodle soup

Cooking can accomplish a lot of emotional things, and sometimes when someone is sick it is our only way to feel helpful and say, "I'm thinking about you."  The giving and receiving of food to send emotional messages seems universal across cultures.   In food, and the cooking and eating of food, we observe a perfect alignment between our human needs for nutrition and emotional bonds with others.  Perhaps chicken noodle soup is the quintessential meal that accomplishes this for Americans.

So here's my version of a chicken noodle soup that is far superior to anything canned, but doesn't take all day making your own stock.  I much prefer the shredded chicken with orzo to cubed chicken with noodles, since it hits on a stew-ier note that is more comforting and is just more uniquely homemade.  At the same time, the added lemon keeps it light and interesting on the flavor side. 

Make it for yourself, or to tell someone else that you're thinking of them.

Ingredients (makes about 6 servings):
  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 1 to 1 1/2  cups chopped celery stalks (save the celery leaves, as well)
  • 1 to 1 1/2  cups chopped carrots
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
Without trimming any fat from the chicken breasts, rub them with salt, pepper, and sage.  In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tsbp. olive oil over high heat and sear each side of the chicken breasts for about 4 minutes.  When browned and crispy, but not cooked through, remove from pot and set aside.
Add the celery and carrots to the pot and lightly salt.  Allow the vegetables to sweat for two minutes, and deglaze the  bottom of the pot.
Add the stock, water, and 1/8 cup of lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Place the chicken back in the pot with the orzo.  Cook for about 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and orzo is done.
Remove the chicken breasts to shred them with two forks.  Toss the shredded chicken in the remaining lemon juice and any juice left on the plate.  Add to the pot. 
 Finish with the chopped celery leaves and salt/pepper to taste.


  1. Made it last night and it turned out great!! I think we're going to add more stock to make it last longer :)

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