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  • Writer's pictureChef Dylan

LEMON CHICKEN ORZO SOUP




This easy to make moreish soup has it all with succulent chicken, creamy orzo pasta, zingy lemon and a tingle of cracked pepper. Why not have a go at this recipe? I promise you – you will not be disappointed.

This steaming bowl of deliciousness is perfect as a light lunch, with a side of toasted sourdough or as a small entrée to whet the appetite before a main course. You can get creative with the vegetables and can mix it up by adding anything that needs used up in the fridge.


Did you know? Orzo, also known as ‘Risoni' is one of many very small types of pasta that Italians call ‘pastina’. These pastas are mostly used in soups, particularly broths and minestrone, rather than creamed or puréed vegetable soups. Orzo actually means ‘barley’ in Italian, and risoni translates as large rice. It’s called this because the pasta resembles an unprocessed grain of barley or rice. Though the shape was created in Italy, orzo has become extremely popular in Greek cooking and has spread throughout the Mediterranean as well as the Middle East.


Chef Dylan tip: If you want to make this with an already cooked rôtisserie-style chicken, just add the shredded chicken in at the same time as the orzo, so the chicken doesn’t overcook. It'll keep easily for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. You will need to add more chicken broth to leftovers, as the orzo pasta absorbs the liquid a bit.


El Camino de Santiago, Spain 2004

I place my cupped hand under the nozzle of the 900-year-old village fountain, and bend down to take refreshing gulps of the pure spring water. There is something magical about quenching a deep thirst, and I have to restrain myself from drinking the spring dry as I still have another 15kms until I reach the small village of Rabanal del Camino. The village is eerily empty as it’s siesta time so I fling on my 15kg backpack and continue on. The painted yellow arrows lead me through a shaded forest.


Sneaking through the canopy, the sparkling rays of sunlight light up the stones on the well-trodden path like golden coins. The air is cool and has the smell of freshly tilled soil, as I trod on; small birds dart effortlessly from branch to branch. The arrows guide me onwards as I pass a fellow peregrino who reminds me of some strange looking ganglion, with his two walking sticks robotically urging him forward, who simply grunts at me as I say “¡Hola!”. The path opens up and I can see far towards the horizon there are small hills on each side, abundant with planted wheat, swaying together like seaweed in an ocean current as the wind whips past. I stop and take it in, and there’s a sudden stillness that overcomes my mind.


A mix of exhaustion, hunger and beauty has stopped the incessant noise of thinking, and I feel a wave of bliss flood through my body. It’s as if the world now is radiantly shining somehow, like I’m seeing the world anew with fresh eyes, unfiltered through the boxlike concepts of thought. I bend down to pick up a small stone and marvel at its form, and somehow it feels alive, before a sudden thought breaks the spell: ‘you better be careful, you could be going mad’, it whispers, and just like that, the dreamlike trance evaporates like warm breath on a cold morning. I glance at my watch and see it’s 2pm, which means I’m very close to my destination.


At 2:45 on the dot, I arrive at my destination for the day. I knock on the huge doors of the ancient church and as the door creaks open, I’m greeted by a small, slightly balding man with beady kind eyes, who opens his arms wide and with a big smile welcomes me in. "Can I see your pilgrim passport please?" he asks, so I reach into my small bag with all my valuables and hand it to him. He carefully unfolds it like an accordion and sees the stamp he is looking for, the one which grants me permission to stay as a pilgrim. “Follow me my friend,” he says, while carefully folding up my passport and handing it back to me. “You must be tired. Let me take you to your quarters where you can freshen up. Dinner is at 6pm sharp. You’re in luck tonight: it’s lemon chicken soup, my specialty” he says proudly with a wink.


This recipe is a real treat that nourishes your mind, body and soul, so why not give it a go?


PREP TIME: 10mins

COOKING TIME: 40 mins

SERVINGS: 6-8


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped finely

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced small

  • 1 tbs butter

  • 2 tbs olive oil

  • 2 tbs SPARTAN

  • Oil, to fry chicken

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons plain flour

  • 2 litres chicken stock

  • 1kg chicken thigh

  • 1 and 1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta

  • 1 fresh lemon to slice as garnish, or to squeeze in to taste

  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

METHOD

  1. In a mixing bowl mix SPARTAN with the oil, and coat all the chicken thighs.

  2. In a large frypan on medium high heat add some oil then fry the chicken for 5 mins each side, then remove from the heat.

  3. In a large pot or casserole dish on medium heat add some oil and fry the celery, carrots, and onions for 5-7 minutes. Stirring every so often until softened.

  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add butter and stir together.

  5. Add the flour and cook stirring for another minute or so.

  6. Pour in chicken stock and stir until the flour has dissolved, then add the cooked chicken. Bring the soup to a boil.

  7. Cover the soup (lid slightly ajar) and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for ~15 minutes.

  8. Stir in the orzo and cook for another 10 minutes or until the orzo is cooked through. Keep the lid off and stir it fairly often as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pot.

  9. Take the chicken out of the pot and on a plate, shred it up with some forks then add it back in.

  10. Add the lemon juice and season the soup with a little more salt and pepper as needed.

TO SERVE


Serve immediately



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