It’s a funny time of year. Everything is at peak ripeness and there’s still lots of sunshine around but it has suddenly turned cold – October cold. Thinking about the difficulties in matching high summer ingredients with these cooler autumn temperatures – a mismatch not dissimilar to reading an online Donna Hay seasonal special in the wrong month – I decided to make a cosy chicken and lemon soup for dinner. With the orzo and citrus flavours, this soup is a bit like that Greek lemon and egg broth Avgolemeno; with all the vegetables and herbs, it’s similar to an Italian minestrone, albeit without the tomatoes. Either way it’s lovely and warm and filling and still tastes summery, which is good because it is still summer….
CHICKEN & LEMON MINESTRONE
1 cup of orzo pasta
1 bunch of herbs: basil, coriander, fennel leaves, mint…
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 medium courgettes
Beans – either fresh or canned
1 large corn on the cob
Good chicken stock, either homemade or bought (approx 1.5 litre +)
Zest and juice of one lemon
3 chicken breasts
A few drops of soy sauce
A few drops of tabasco
Herbs de Provence
1 onion (or a few spring onions)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and mix in a bowl with the honey, olive oil, soy sauce, herbs de Provence and one clove of garlic and leave to marinate for 10 minutes. Spread the chicken out over a baking tray and dot with a little butter. Roast until cooked and nicely browned. Set aside. Meanwhile, fry an onion in plenty of olive oil and butter. Add the diced garlic and the orzo and fry for a few minutes longer. Add the zest of the lemon, reserving a little to serve. Add the chicken stock, some olive oil and the juice of half the lemon. Taste and season with salt and pepper and a few drops of tabasco. Add some more stock if the soup is becoming too thick and ‘stewp-y’. Slice the courgettes and fry separately in a little vegetable oil. Cut the raw sweetcorn off the corn on the cob and set aside. When the orzo is almost ready add the vegetables (sweetcorn, beans, sliced kale, fried courgettes and any others that you have lurking in your fridge) and cook them in the broth for just a few minutes so that you get the best of them. At the last minute add the cooked chicken and a big handful of torn herbs, along with more lemon juice if it needs it. Serve with more herbs, lemon zest, some nice bread and maybe a swirl of fresh pesto.
If it’s only chicken soup can I have another bowl?