Lemony Chicken Soup with Orzo, Dill and Coriander

Lemony Chicken Soup with Orzo, Dill and CorianderBrian and I devoured a whole roasted chicken last night. We did a good job of picking through most of it, but there was still a little meat on the bones. I always feel wasteful throwing out the carcass and so it has become a tradition to make soup out of the remains, boiling down the left over bird into a rich flavorful stock. This way we get two meals out of one chicken.

My very earliest memory of food …..is of my mom’s chicken and rice soup. I remember being in a highchair in the middle of the kitchen, my hands dripping with soup, fingers going in my mouth and thinking how good it tasted. I couldn’t have been more than three. I believe that our first experiences of food influence and shape what we come to love and crave. For me, unfortunately, its salt and fat.
What is your first food memory?  What food do you crave?

So here is what I started with… the left over chicken from last night.  (If you need a really good basic recipe for roasted chicken, try Tomas Keller’s recipe from the French Laundry, below.)

As you can see here, there is not a whole lot of chicken left. But surprisingly there is enough for a good soup. Just be sure you have at least one cup of meat. It will surprise you…. how much more you get.

If you are looking for a good local source for chicken, I like Many Rock Farms. They are at the Spokane Public Market, the Main Market Co Op, and the Spokane Farmers Market. Though they are not certified organic, they are all natural and hormone free….and tasty.

If you are pinched for time and don’t want to roast your own chicken, I won’t tell anyone if you purchase one already roasted, hot and delicious at your local grocery store.  It’s ok, we’ve all done it.

What I like about this soup, are the hints of spring.  The lemon and fresh dill give it a refreshing brightness. Looking out the window today, it’s hard to believe that the first day of spring is right around the corner.

But the amazing flavor comes from simmering the leftover chicken and bones in water. After a couple hours, this turns into the most aromatic flavorful broth. I would be fine, just drinking this.

For many of us, chicken soup is considered to be the epitome of comfort food. Not only here in the US, but around the world it has the reputation of being a remedy for colds and flues and a cure all for all sorts of ailments. So many different countries and cultures have their  own version.
Here are just a few:
In France, typical seasonings include bay leaves, fresh thyme, dry white wine and garlic.
In Germany homemade chicken soup consists of chicken broth with dumplings or spatzle added to it.
In Greece, chicken soup is thickened with mixture of eggs and lemon and is called Avgolemono.
China has their version with the addition of ginger, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil.
In Columbia,  they have a  chicken soup called Ajiaco.  Along with chicken, Ajiaco typically includes corn and potatoes,  garnished with avocado and a dollop of cream. Doesn’t that sound good?
Chicken soup is a traditional dish in the Jewish kitchen.There are several versions but one version is prepared with herbs like parsley, dill or thyme and served with matzah balls.  Samgyetang is a Korean chicken soup with Korean ginseng, dried jujube fruits, garlic, ginger, rice and sometimes other medicinal herbs. In Mexico, Sopa de Lima, is flavored with fresh lime, Mexican oregano and fresh cilantro.
The Polish version of chicken soup is served with fine noodles and sometimes ground almonds in the broth. Another version from Scotland that has become popular is called cock-a-leekie, flavored with… you got it, leeks.

The addition of toasted coriander seeds, gives the soup depth and interest.
Toasting seeds has always been a challenge for me. Lets just say that after burning a million batches of seeds,  including this one today, you learn that you can not even think about walking away from the stove when you are doing this. It needs your contestant attention.

Crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can place them in a ziplock back on the counter and roll a rolling pin over them. They don’t need to be super fine, just coarsely crushed.

Use fresh dill. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup which is basically an entire package, found in most grocery stores.

You will need 1/2 cup of fresh Lemon juice and 1 T of lemon zest. This ends up being about 3 med sized lemons. Before you cut your lemons, roll them firmly on the counter applying pressure with your palm, softening them. This will allow you to extract more juice.

You could easily substitute rice for the orzo (making this gluten free) but since I am still in the process of cleaning out our pantry, I opted to use up the orzo.

I borrowed the technique of adding a mixture of beaten eggs and lemon, like they do in Greece, to give the soup a richness and subtle creaminess. It’s a little tricky, so follow the directions closely. But if done carefully, it’s extraordinary.  Basically, you whisk the eggs well with the lemon juice. You must “temper” the egg mixture so the eggs don’t ….well…turn into scrambled eggs in your soup. You temper your egg mixture by gradually adding a little hot broth to the eggs while constantly stirring. You are raising the temperature of the the eggs, slowly.

Lemony Chicken Soup with Orzo, Dill and Coriander| feasting at home
TThanks for reading! For more Feasting at Home … 

Lemony Chicken Soup with Orzo, Coriander Seed and Dill

1 left over Roasted chicken with 1-2 cups meat left on it.
12 C water
2 Bay leaf
4 tsp salt

1 C diced onion or leek
1 C diced celery
1-2 T oil
2 tsp toasted coriander seed ( or ground is fine)
1/4 C fresh dill
1/2 C lemon juice ( 2-3 lemons) and zest from 2 lemons (1T)
2 eggs
1 C orzo  ( If you want thicker soup you could add 1/2 – 1 cup more orzo) Basically, if you are serving all the soup right away, use more orzo. If you are saving some soup for the next day, the orzo will quadruple in size leaving you with no broth. Up to you.

Dollop Sour Cream and sprig of dill

Pour 12 C (3 quarts) water over chicken carcass w/ 2 bay leaves and 4 tsp salt and simmer covered for 1-2 hours. (You could do this ahead and store in the fridge over night.)

Strain over a large bowl, reserving stock and meat. Let cool. With your fingers, separate meat from the bones, discarding the bones, and breaking up the meat into smaller bite size pieces. You should have 1-2 cups of chicken meat left. With your fingers, double and triple check for small bones.

In a heavy bottom pot, sauté onion in oil til tender, about 5 minutes. Add celery. Once celery is tender add in the chicken stock and the chicken meat. Toast your Coriander seeds and crush them and add the the soup along with lemon zest. Bring to a boil.

Skim 2 cups of hot broth out of the pot and set aside. Add Orzo and let simmer uncovered stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. At this point soup will still seem pretty brothy, but it will thicken up.

As this is simmering, in a medium sized bowl whisk 2 large eggs with 1/2 C fresh lemon Juice. Whisk well. ( Don’t skimp on the lemon juice).

This is important.  Very gradually, while whisking the egg mixture vigorously, slowly as possible, pour  or drizzle the two cups of hot stock into the egg mixture.  This is called tempering the eggs. You are slowly raising the temperate of the eggs, so they don’t curdle in the soup.  If it curdles, its ruined. So be careful. Once the 2 cups of hot stock are incorporated in the egg mixture, you can then pour this into the big soup pot, again pouring gradually and very slowly mixing well at the same time. This will give the soup a nice rich creaminess. Once the orzo is cooked through, add a 1/4 C chopped fresh dill.  Serve in a bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.


Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken – Mon Poulet Roti

from the Bouchon cookbook by Thomas Keller
makes 2 to 4 servings


One 2- to 3-pound farm raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
Unsalted butter
Dijon mustard


Preheat oven to 450. Rinse chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out…
Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird…
Now, salt the chicken — I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste withpepper.
Place chicken in saute pan or roasting pan and when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven…Roast it until it’s done, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
…Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side…
Lemony Chicken Soup with Orzo, Dill and Coriander| www.feastingathome.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *