Since I'm suffering from a head cold the last couple days I thought a nice bowl of chicken soup would be just the ticket. Of course my favorite chicken soup is a creamy bowl of Lemon Chicken so that's what I'm going with. Get both the comfort food qualities of chicken noodle and the refreshing zip of lemon. I'm feeling better already.
4 tbsp. butter
6 chives (green onions will do)
2 medium carrots, shredded or sliced thin
2 chicken breasts* chopped into small strips
4 c. chicken broth*
1 c. orange juice (not from concentrate)
8 oz. small pasta
1 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper
vegetable peeler or citrus zester
medium cut grater
large frying pan
large stock pot
Using the vegetable peeler or a citrus zester remove as much of the yellow rind from one of the lemons as possible (if you use the peeler use one lemon, if you use the zester you will probably have to do both). You want to avoid the white pithy material just below the rind or zest so don't cut too deeply. If you use the peeler cut the lemon rind into very fine pieces. Set the lemon zest aside.
Using a grater shred the carrots into thin short strips or slice very thinly. Chop up the chives or green onion. You can also add sliced celery at this point, if you like. Put all the ingredients into the frying pan and sauté for about 3 minutes.
In the stock pot add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the lemon zest.
Put the sliced chicken into the frying pan and sauté until browned, then transfer the chicken and vegetables to the stock pot.
Using the citrus reamer press the juice from the lemons (use a fine strainer to catch the pits). Add the juice of the lemons and the 1 cup of orange juice to the stock pot. Do not use orange drink or frozen orange juice, these often contain sugar. You can use the citrus reamer on a couple of oranges if you like. Simmer for 40 minutes.
Add the pasta to the stock pot. I usually prefer orzo (rice-shaped pasta) but this time I chose 'Ave Maria' (small tube-shaped pasta). You can use any small pasta that you like, such as funghini (small mushroom-shaped pasta), anellini (small ring-shaped pasta), fili d'oro (small thread-like pasta) or, if all else fails, broken up spaghetti. There are many more types of small pasta available, just be sure that the cooked pasta will not be too large (at least 3 pieces should fit in your spoon when eating the soup). Cook for 15 - 20 minutes (depending on the pasta chosen).
Season with salt and pepper (white pepper is nice for this) then add the cream and heat through. Do not boil once the cream has been added.
If you want to prepare this soup ahead of time follow all the steps up until the time to add the pasta. Instead let the soup cool and put in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When it is time to serve heat the soup to boiling and then follow the steps from where you stopped. The fully prepared soup can be refrigerated but warming it up without boiling can be tricky. Also I find that the noodles tend to get a little soft.
If you want to look fancy sprinkle a few fresh chives and a twist of lemon rind to the top of each soup bowl before serving. Serve with crusty bread or hot garlic bread.
*You can make your own chicken broth (and the chicken required for the above recipe) by taking about 2 lbs of thawed or fresh raw chicken wings, legs and backs and putting them into a sauté pan. Brown them in a little olive oil, only cooking as much as will fit comfortably in the pan. Then remove the browned pieces to a bowl and sauté the rest. Once all the chicken has been browned return all the pieces to the pan, cover and continue to cook on low for about 20 minutes. Then transfer the sautéed chicken pieces to a stock pot and pour 1 quart (plus 1 cup) of boiling water over them. Add a little salt and a bay leaf and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes. Then set to low and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes. After that time you can strain the stock through a strainer into a large bowl (should make approx. 4 cups of broth). Allow the chicken pieces to cool then pull all the meat off the bones and rinse. Discard the bones. The cooked chicken meat can be used in the above recipe instead of the 2 chicken breasts. The broth can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or frozen for several months.