This isn’t your traditional, everyday chicken soup. This soup takes that soup to a whole new level- a seriously healthy, delicious level. Chicken soup has never been considered a “healthy” meal… it’s definitely more on the comfort food end of the spectrum. Mostly because it’s not particularly nutrient dense. Yes, it’s great for a cold or to use up those leftover pieces of chicken meat and chicken bones, but not truly chocked full of nutrients. That’s where this recipe comes in hand. Say that you’re feeling a nice hot bowl of chicken soup, but want to do something good for your body- this soup is what you want to make.
I found this recipe in one of Ellie Kriegers cookbooks. I think she does a really good job taking most traditional recipes and revamping them in a healthful, yet delicious way. This recipe was no exception. Personally I was a little turned off by it at first, but it had one of the longest lists of “good nutrient sources” in her entire book so I wanted to give it a shot. I have made it a few times now and since we’re back in comfort food season, I thought I’d share it with you.
There are a few things that make this soup particularly healthy. First of all, the choice of meat- all white meat, boneless, skinless chicken breast. This cut has the least amount of saturated fat. The addition of eggs bumps up the protein as well as adds to the level of various other nutrients. Despite the whole cholesterol worry that comes with eggs, they are actually quite good for you when eaten in moderation. And lastly, lemon juice. This gives the soup a fantastic flavor, along with a boost of vitamin C. Increasing the vitamin C also helps with the absorption of Iron. All of these factors work together to create the following nutrient profile:
Excellent source of: Niacin, Phosphorous, Potassium, Protein, Riboflavin, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C
Good source of: Copper, Folate, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin K, Zinc
Now, that’s enough talk about nutrition! Let me just assure you that this is indeed a very yummy soup. NOT the traditional flavor or consistency that you would normally get from chicken soup, but good in its’ own right. Unless you have an utter abhorrence for lemon, then there is no reason you wouldn’t enjoy this new take on the soup.
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
- 1 medium onion, diced (about 1½ cups)
- 2 stalks celery, diced (about ½ cup)
- 1 medium carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup orzo (preferably whole wheat)
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
- Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.
- Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.