Lemon Basil Chicken Soup


Sometimes chicken soup just needs some speed and some *pow,* am I right?  Chicken soup is a classic, and I respect everything about making the whole thing from scratch…creating a homemade stock and incorporating the very chicken used to make it.  And, I do that from time to time.

But, sometimes I just want it to be…faster.  And, brighter.  This recipe is the perfect thing for those times.  Using cooked or rotisserie chicken and store-bought chicken stock (or broth, whichever you prefer) speeds the process along.  Plus, the lemon and the basil in this will help you cling onto summer while also enjoying the comfort food-ness (sorry, have you ever seen “You, Me and Dupree?”) of the beginning of fall.

One of the things I like most about cooking soup is that it’s almost always a one-pot meal.  This one will require two (sorry again) but for the best possible reason: so you’ll have really terrific leftovers the next day!  By cooking the orzo separately, instead of throwing it into the soup for its last few minutes of cooking time, the pasta will remain firm, and it won’t swell up and absorb all of your delicious soup broth.  Cook it separately and store it separately: that’s the advice of the day.  Enjoy!

Lemon Basil Chicken Soup
  • 2 tsp. olive oil, separated
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled & diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock/broth
  • ⅓ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, diced
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup orzo
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions, carrots, and celery to the oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  3. Add the chicken stock/broth, lemon juice, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain, drizzle remaining teaspoon of olive oil over pasta, and stir so it doesn’t clump.
  5. Add the cooked chicken to the soup pot and cook 5 minutes longer to heat it through. Off the heat, add the parmesan cheese and basil.
  6. Spoon some of the orzo into a large bowl, and ladle the soup on top. Serve with more parmesan cheese, if desired.

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.

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