Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Soup Weather Left...but my Soup Cravings are Still Here!

This journey of mine is an interesting one. In the past I've hit a "diet" pretty hard, trying to increase my water intake, cut calories, increase exercise and anything else that deemed "essential" all at once so I could be an "after" as soon as humanly possible. That's what you're supposed to do, right? Well, maybe, but that has never worked for me. I am still a "before". I am proof of the failure of diets. I've been on many, lost some weight, gained some weight, but never really succeeded. So, the approach is different this time and it's noticeable for me. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, read this post from late 2008. I'm drinking a lot of water. Am I conscious of what I eat? Yes. Have I made huge sweeping changes? No. Will this take longer? Absolutely! What are my odds of success? Much higher.

I know I mostly talk about recipes I'm trying out, but I wanted to remind everyone how I got to this place and why I'm trying to cook through THESE books and not others....there's a method to my madness! =) I promise.

So, what's the latest meal? A really, really good one. I post and read lots of things on the Bulletin Boards over at Cooking Light's website. There have been lots of conversations about Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave. Almost every time someone starts a thread about this book, raves come in about her Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo. It's a tempting recipe thanks in part to a fantastic photo in the book! So, I'm still in the mood for soup despite the warm temps here in Houston, so I thought I'd give it a go.

It's a really simple recipe, but it does require more pots / pans / containers than I expected for a soup. You start in a soup pot by cooking the cut up chicken breast, then move that meat to another bowl to wait for it's grand entrance to the soup. Then you cook the veggies, dusted with Thyme, in that same soup pot and when they're soft enough to swim, add the broth. The orzo joins the party when that swimming pool turns into a bubbling hot tub. So the boiling broth lets the orzo become nice and tender. While that's going on, you take a 2nd pot to warm just a cup of broth - but don't boil it! 2 whisked eggs blended with fresh lemon juice are then married slowly to the hot cup of broth and added to the main soup pot to thicken things up. The chicken takes a final dive in at the end just before you season it with salt and pepper and send it piping hot and tasty to a soup bowl! It took me about 20-25 minutes to put this soup together along with 2 pots and 2 bowls and an array of measuring cups and spoons, but it was worth every bit of it!

This is definitely a soup I'll make again! The lemon is there, but not overpowering, the thyme does it job nicely in the background and the orzo gives you just the right amount of starch to make you feel full. This would be a great replacement for chicken noodle soup when you are under the weather and I'm thinking I need to see how it will freeze so there is always some just a defrosting away!

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave

Serves 4


4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 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.

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

Per serving: Calories: 280, Total Fat: 10g (Mono:6g, Poly: 1g, Sat: 2g), Protein: 26g, Carb: 22g, Fiber: 2g, Chol: 39mg, Sodium: 291mg

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