Uh…where to start? I just wrote you a whole paragraph and then said to myself “no one cares about that, that story was lame and stupid”, so I deleted it. I’m tired. This whole working out at 5:30 in the morning business is for the birds. Sorry Mr. Sweeter Thing, but it is. All I want to eat is cookie dough and buttercream frosting, together, on top of ice cream. Yum. But no, I had pretzels and hummus for lunch. I could eat my own fingers off my hand right now, I’m so hungry. Stupid healthy goals. Stupid.
So I made soup. I love soup. Summer, winter, fall, doesn’t matter. I eat soup year round. I drink coffee year round so why not soup? I had a version of this soup at Panera a million years ago and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. The Google everyone uses nowadays was rather helpful in finding a copycat recipe. I’ll be honest, Mr. Sweeter Thing wasn’t so convinced about a lemon soup. I think he felt like it needed more manpower behind it. Like it should be full of hearty goodness or should somehow be able to be made on the grill or something in order for him to enjoy it. Whatever. I liked it. It hit the spot. I’ll make it again, I’ll just serve it to him out of a used coffee can or something to make it a less “girly” soup. Whatever that is.
Chop some veggies. Carrots, onions, celery. Saute in olive oil with some garlic for 10 minutes, no one wants crunchy celery and carrots in their soup. Trust me. Been there, done that.
Add chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, cook and chop up some chicken. I simply used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I rinsed them and dried them and laid them on a baking sheet, sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. I sprayed the tops of the chicken as well and sprinkled salt, pepper, and dried lemon peel on top and baked at 375 for 20 minutes. Perfection.
The original recipe instructs you to add dry orzo pasta to the soup after it boils and cook until its tender. THIS is where I would change things. Cook your orzo SEPARATELY, adding it to the individual bowls of soup just before serving. The orzo absorbed way too much moisture, making my soup less brothy than I hoped for and made the orzo a little mushy. What was worse was when I heated up the leftovers. No thank you. Lemon chicken orzo goulash is not as good. So keep it out, store it separately too and this will serve and heat up beautifully later. Additionally, I would imagine that some quinoa would go really nicely in this soup in place of the orzo. Just follow the same instructions and cook/store it separately.
When the soup is boiling, remove the bay leaf and add the chicken. Let it heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and toss in some torn baby leaf spinach and give it all a good stir.
Ladle into bowls and add your cooked orzo. Enjoy warm!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 8 cups of chicken broth
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1/2-1 cup flat leaf baby spinach, torn into pieces
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and heat for about 5 minutes.
- In a separate pot, cook the orzo according to the package instructions.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the spinach. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls, add the orzo to each bowl, and serve warm.