GINNA PARSONS: Lemon juice adds kick to chicken soup

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

I was watching Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network the other day and she was – surprise – cooking with lemons. I don’t think that woman knows how to make anything without using lemons.
I was intrigued, though, by a chicken soup she made using the juice of two lemons. The other ingredients were very simple: chicken stock, carrots, spaghetti, leftover chicken and cheese.
When I went online to find the exact recipe, I noticed several people had tried it and rated it. More than a few said the soup was too sour. Others said it was bland and needed additional vegetables.
I took all their comments to heart and made my own version of Giada’s soup. I used the juice of only one lemon, and I added onions and celery for flavor. Giada also left the skin on her chicken breasts, but I removed it to make the soup more healthful.
The result was fantastic. I’m talking about a soup that both my children were still gushing about the next day. I don’t know when I’ve gotten so many compliments on a dish that was, really, so simple to prepare.
By all means, if you don’t like the flavor of lemons, don’t add one to this soup. I’m sure it would be delicious without it. But it really does add a bright, fresh flavor.

Lemon Chicken Soup
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
12 cup chopped onion
12 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cans low-sodium chicken broth
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
1 (2-inch) piece of Parmesan cheese rind
(optional)
1 cup spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
2 rotisserie chicken breast halves, diced
12 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
14 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté carrots, onion and celery in olive oil until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. In a Dutch oven, combine chicken broth, lemon juice, bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using, over medium heat. Add sautéed vegetables and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Add broken pasta and cook until the pasta is tender, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using, and stir in the Romano cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with additional Romano cheese, if desired.
Makes 6 servings.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.