Brian 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?
As you can see here, there is not a whole lot of chicken left. But surprisingly there is enough for a good pot of soup. Just be sure you have at least one cup of meat. It will surprise you…. how much more you get.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Dill
A spring inspired chicken soup – Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Dill, made with leftover chicken.
1 left over roasted chicken with 1-2 cups meat left on it.
12 cups water
2 Bay leaves
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)
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.