Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chicken Lemon Soup with Rice

Photo credit Cooking Light.
One of my mom's favorite books to read to us was Chicken Soup with Rice.

I can hear her voice reading the words:

"In January
it's so nice
while slipping
on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup
with rice.
Sipping once
sipping twice
sipping chicken soup
with rice."

Chicken soup with rice, so the book goes on to say, is delicious any month of the year. January, March, July, October... it's a cute book. And who doesn't love Maurice Sendak? You should get it.

Not a big fan of the way noodles eventually go mushy in a bowl of soup, I always thought that chicken soup with rice was the BEST kind of chicken soup. Now, of course, I know that there are other delicious kinds of chicken soup. But chicken soup with rice is easily still one of my favorites.

But with the addition of lemon? OH, boy. That reminds me of evenings with friends at National Coney Island, eating a $1.50 bowl of lemon chicken rice soup, or of my boss at Dairy Queen bringing in a pot of his mom's chicken lemon soup. It was always amazing. (My boss's mom's was better than the restaurant's.)

I've never tried to replicate it. I suspected that it wasn't as easy as making chicken soup and then adding lemon juice. That would be... weird. Plus, the soup I remembered didn't have any of the regular 'chicken soup vegetables'. Don't ask why I didn't look up the recipe online. I guess it just escaped me.

Until I received an issue of Cooking Light magazine in the mail and saw THIS! A recipe for traditional Greek 'avgolemono' - chicken lemon soup with rice!

That week, we had a whole grilled chicken for dinner on Thursday night. There was one bone-in breast left over, as well as a bunch of bones on our plates and whatever was left on them. I pulled any extra meat off and covered the bones with about 12 cups of water. It simmered the rest of the evening and the first half of the next day. When I strained it, I tossed the bones and decided to FINALLY make this soup.

Thank the Lord, I doubled it.

Chicken Lemon Soup with Rice

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 1/2 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice (I used half wild rice and half brown)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I used bottled)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil (I didn't use either of these)

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.
2. Add Chicken Stock; bring to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes. (I let it simmer for an hour, because of the heartier rice.)
3. Combine juice, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly pour egg into broth mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken to broth mixture; cook until mixture thickens and rice is done (about 3 minutes). Top with parsley and basil.

OKAY. This is my new favorite soup. 

Brian hated it.

We had it for lunch on the weekend. I was on my eighteenth half-mug-full (everyone knows that if you don't fill up a bowl, only half a mug, then the calories don't count) and I kept saying how delicious it was. "What is that?" Brian asked. When I told him the recipe, he made a face. "That sounds gross. Lemon doesn't go with chicken!" FINE with me, was my reply! More for me!

But went to the stove to get some. "If you don't like it," I told him, "dump it BACK into the pot. Don't waste it!" But he finished his bowl, and then went back for seconds! "You must like this soup," I said. "That's your second bowl!"

"Eh," he replied. "Not that much."

I flipped out. "What's wrong with you?! This soup is AMAZING! I love it! If you don't like it, stop EATING it... for crying out loud!"

"Lemon and chicken aren't supposed to go together," he said again. "Meat isn't supposed to be sour. Any time meat is sour that means it's bad. So why would you want to make it taste that way on purpose?"

"You are crazy," I declared. "First of all, you are not allowed to eat any more of this soup if you don't appreciate it. Secondly, you know this meat isn't spoiled!"

"Well," he replied lightly, "if you have to remind yourself that it's not, while you're eating it, that cuts down on the enjoyment."

"You are crazy!" I said again. "A lot of times, people pair meat with something sour. That's why marinades always have vinegar or citrus in them. It's called FLAVOR. PLUS, don't you put pickles on your hamburger?"

"That's different," he said stubbornly. "That adds a little zing."

"So does sauerkraut... mustard... horseradish... salad dressing..."

"Those are all disgusting," he said.

We haven't spoken to each other since then.
(Kidding! But... he IS crazy, right?! Or is it me?)

SO, you tell me... do you agree with me, or with the Bri? If you agree with me, make that soup!



  1. I started singing that song as soon as I saw the title of your post. I was so happy to see that you knew it too!

    And Brian is wrong. Of COURSE lemon goes with chicken. Has he never had lemon chicken at a Chinese restaurant? And lemon garlic marinade is delicious :-)

  2. THANK you, Sky! One vote for me! I've always considered lemon to be a natural pairing with chicken, but I didn't know if that was just me. :)

    And I love that book.