This soup… oh, this soup. Words seem indescribable to explain how it tastes like love, like comfort, and like coming home. If ever there was a soup that a girl could be proud of, this is my soup. It is rich and creamy tasting, but lightened with lemon. It is, in my humble opinion, the best pot of soup I have ever made.
Let me not say that this comes without effort. The day I made this soup our kitchen was a roaring 500 degrees, I was stripped down to my workout clothes and my hair was in a frizzy singed state from leaning into an oven to flip pitas. I mistakenly had picked up cilantro to garnish my soup instead of parsley and there were bits of food all over my sad apparel. As my sweaty hand clutched my camera to take the preparation pictures, I sadly watched my soup getting colder by the minute garnished with cilantro (my least favorite seasoning) for that perfect finish photo. At that moment, I heard something roaring in my head….
“THIS IS NUTS.”
Then I sat down and I ate it…and every moment of crazy was worth this effort. The soup kept giving to me for an easy midweek lunch, a shared lunch with a good friend, and then the final bowl was enjoyed this weekend.
Those moments of effort seem worth the crazy sometimes. And crazy is likely what my husband thought when he saw me sweating, red-faced, in my tank top with a singed hair halo around my pink face…but he & my kids agreed it was worth mommy’s crazy for a bowl of this.
The beginning preparation will look familiar to you if you have prepared my Chicken & Noodle Soup. We are going to chop some carrots for our soup base. I like four carrots, but you can do more or less, depending on how many carrots you like in your soup.
In a large pot, drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and drop your carrots into the pot. Season these with salt and pepper. Let them cook for five minutes to get a good base to your quick soup going.
Juice a couple of lemons to add to your chicken broth. You will need 1/2 a cup of juice for this recipe. Please use real lemons, not the bottled stuff…it really is worth it!
Pour eight cups of low-sodium chicken broth into your pot that is filled with the carrots. Add the juice of the lemons to the pot and season with another round of salt and pepper. Bring this liquid to a nice, slow simmer.
Take advantage of a sale like I did, and snag a rotisserie chicken to use for your soup. Rest your bird in the simmering liquid and let it cook for fifteen minutes, allowing the seasonings from the bird to season your broth. Oh, this is going to be so delicious!
In a separate pot, bring a pot of water to a boil. Season generously with a little salt. Add 1 cup of orzo pasta to this pot and cook as directed. Once, it is cooked, drain the pasta and set it aside for your soup.
Carefully pull your chicken out and dice the meat from the bird for your soup. Let it rest for a few minutes while you finish your soup base.
Now comes your secret ingredient to the creaminess of your soup…egg yolk. Whisk three egg yolks in a separate bowl. Now you need to temper your egg yolks (sounds fancy, but it is not), by adding a little of the hot soup base to your eggs and then whisking the heck out of it. By adding a little of the hot liquid to your egg yolks, you are preventing a scrambled egg mess in your soup. Once you have added some of this hot liquid to the eggs and whisked it, you can whisk the egg mixture into your whole pot of soup. Again, whisk the heck out of it. Don’t freak out- you got this!
Add back in your chicken and the orzo pasta. Stir and ladle immediately into bowls garnished with parsley and lemon slices.
You can serve your soup with store-bought pitas, or you can give my bread machine pita recipe a shot. I highly recommend at least attempting this recipe sometime, these homemade pitas are heavenly and are so yummy, hot out of the oven. The best part, is that your bread machine can do all of the hard work for you!
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 carrots, chopped
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
Diced, cooked chicken meat (from a rotisserie chicken)
Lemon slices, fresh parsley, salt & pepper for seasoning & garnish)
3 egg yolks
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo noodles and cook until tender. Drain, and rinse under cool running water. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, saute the carrots in two tablespoons of olive oil for five minutes to start your soup base or you can skip this step and proceed as directed, if you desire a crunchier vegetable. Heat up broth and fresh lemon juice and bring it to a simmer. Gently add your rotisserie chicken and all of the drippings from the pan and put a lid on your pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Pull out your chicken and set aside to dice. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until light in color. Gradually add some of the hot soup to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Return the egg mixture to the soup pot and heat through. Add the orzo and chicken. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices. Toss in a handful of fresh chopped parsley and ladle into bowls.
Side note: If you like a thicker soup base, you can melt two tablespoons of butter and then spoon two tablespoons of flour in the pot, after you have cooked your carrots. Add a little of your chicken broth to the flour & butter and whisk it, then whisk the rest of your soup broth and lemon juice in, to help prevent lumps. This will give you a thicker base to your soup broth.
Pita Bread (for the Bread Machine)
1 1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
Put ingredients into the bread machine in order listed. Run the dough cycle on your machine. When the bread machine beeps, pull the dough out of the bread machine and divide the dough into ten pieces. Roll each piece into a six inch circle. Place these on a baking sheet (or your pizza stones) and let them rise for twenty minutes (I can fit about four rounds per pizza stone or three pitas per baking sheet). Bake at 500 degrees for three minutes. Using a spatula, flip the pitas and cook for another three to four minutes on the flip side.
Side Note: When you pull the pitas off of your baking sheet, wrap them into a damp kitchen towel for a few minutes. This helps keep them from drying out. Once they are cool, you can store them in a food storage bag. Freeze extras for a rainy day! After the pitas have cooled, slip a piece of wax paper between them and store in a freezer bag. You can take out what you need…when you need it!