Recipe Review

This Lemony Chicken Soup Is Exactly What You Need Right Now

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(Image credit: Pinch of Yum)

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I grew up in Chicago, and my best friend’s family was Greek and knew all the good restaurants. Just about every week they would take us to Greektown for flaming cheese and spanakopita. As much as I loved shouting, “Opa!” when the cheese burst into flames, the part I remember most vividly as an adult is the wonderful lemon soup.

The first time I heard the phrase “lemon soup,” I pictured chicken broth with lemon slices floating in it and thought, “Blech!” But my friend told me to try it, and when the bowls showed up full of smooth, velvety soup that tasted like fresh lemons, I had a new favorite food.

This soup is all about the base, which is thick but still brothy, smooth, and so creamy I would have sworn it was half milk and butter. But there’s no dairy in it at all — just chicken broth, lemon juice, and eggs. It’s an easy recipe with one tricky spot, but once you master it you’ll want to make it again and again.

Start by sautéing diced onions, carrots, and minced garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot until the ingredients are fragrant and softened. Then you add the chicken broth to the pot and let it come to a simmer. Next add the orzo and cook until it’s nice and tender, then add about three cups of cooked chicken. The author likes to use shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, but you can cook your own chicken if you like. Then you’ll take the whole pot off the heat.

A mixture of eggs and lemon juice gives the soup its creamy texture and intense lemon flavor, but it takes care to get a bowl of raw eggs into a pot of hot soup without accidentally cooking the eggs and winding up with a hot pot of chicken soup with scrambled eggs in it. To get the eggs into the soup without cooking them, start by whisking the eggs together with the juice of about four lemons. Once the mixture is smooth, take a small scoop of the hot broth from the soup and slowly add it to the egg mixture while whisking. The idea is to gradually warm up the egg-and-lemon mixture, so you can add it to the soup without cooking it.

Go slowly and keep whisking as you add the soup, and when the egg mixture is warm, you can slowly add it back to the soup pot, making sure to go slowly and keep stirring while you do so. If your soup is very hot, the author suggests adding a few ice cubes to bring down the temperature before adding it to the eggs.

Once the lemon and eggs are added, the soup is basically done. Mix in some fresh spinach, salt and pepper, and fresh dill to taste, and eat it immediately with some crusty bread for dunking. You can store it in the fridge for a few days if you have leftovers — just add some water to thin it out a bit if the orzo absorbs too much of the broth overnight.

Get the recipe: Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo from Pinch of Yum

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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