Cooking Cove: Chicken soup – Variations on a comforting theme

Cooking Cove: Chicken soup – Variations on a comforting theme

By Barbara Beltrami

Times being what they are with election and COVID-19 stress absorbing all our attention and impacting our peace of mind, with weather turning chilly and gray, it’s a good time to think about the number one comfort food, chicken soup. And depending on the candidate you voted for vis a vis the candidate who won, you may really need that comfort. I think we all love the basic chicken soup, the one with lots of noodles to slurp up, but there are so many variations on this theme too.

Lemon Chicken Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups chicken broth or stock

4 cups shredded roast chicken

1 small onion, chopped

2 to 3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery ribs, chopped

2/3 cup dry white wine

1/2 pound orzo

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Salt and ground white pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot combine broth, chicken, onion, carrots, celery, and wine. Cook over medium-low heat until veggies are tender, about one hour; increase heat to medium-high, add orzo and cook at a steady boil according to package directions, until al dente. Stir in parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest; simmer 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot with a Greek salad and pita chips.

Asian Chicken Soup with Bok Choy

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 head bok choy, sliced thin

2 to 3 scallions, sliced thin

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot or saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil; add red pepper flakes, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and bok choy; simmer until the bok choy leaves turn dark green, about 10 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle scallions on top and serve hot with crispy fried Chinese noodles and pad thai.

Creamy Chicken Soup with Mushrooms

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

2 celery ribs with leaves, finely chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cups sliced small Portobello mushroom

1/2 cup flour

8 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

3 cups shredded roast chicken

1/2 cup cream

1 tablespoon dry sherry

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat; add onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until veggies soften, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add flour and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook two more minutes. Add broth and, whisking constantly, bring to a boil; add herbs and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chicken, bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Discard bay leaf; whisk in cream, sherry and salt and pepper. Serve hot with soft rolls and a delicate green salad.

Cajun Chicken Rice Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 to 5 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, grilled, diced

1 onion, diced

2 celery ribs, sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

3 garlic cloves chopped

1 tablespoon unsalted Cajun seasoning

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1 quart chicken broth

2/3 cup rice (not quick-cooking)

One 10-ounce package frozen okra, thawed

DIRECTIONS:

In large pot over medium heat warm oil; add onion, celery and bell pepper, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes; add garlic, Cajun seasoning, paprika, cayenne and salt and pepper; cook and stir 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, tomatoes, chicken broth, and one cup water, bring to a boil, then add rice, chicken and okra, cover and simmer until rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot with sourdough bread and a green salad.

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