I have a cold. I have had a cold for five long days now and I getting mighty resentful about it. This is the type of cold that makes you feel exceedingly tired and not much use for anything. But since this is me, I have been trying to carry on as normal, baking, cooking, even exercising… Big mistake. Instead of getting better, I am feeling progressively worse and I am writing this post huddled under the living room sofa throw (a massively chunky knit affair) with a bowl of steaming Greek lemon chicken soup by my side.
The soup is a very good idea. It is the soup of my childhood – very simple, very easy, and yet full of magical restorative properties. In Greece, this soup is usually made richer with the addition of avgolemono (eggs beaten with lemon juice and then mixed with the hot soup broth) but I must admit I am not a fan. So I have ditched the eggs but kept the lemon – my husband jokes that my family adds lemon juice to every single dish, which is not far from the truth. Instead of rice you could add orzo or small pasta shapes (stellini) or thin noodles – adjust the cooking time accordingly. If you store the soup overnight, the rice will swell further making it thicker. Add a little hot water to thin if necessary.
Serves 4 | Prep: 5 minutes | Cook: 25-30 minutes
2 ltr | 5 cups hot chicken stock (more if needed)
400g | 14oz skinless chicken breast fillets (or cooked chicken)
100g | 3.5oz basmati or long grain rice
3 small leeks, white parts only, finely diced
3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3 celery stalks (with leaves, if possible), finely chopped
2 bay leaves
juice of half a lemon (or more, to taste)
generous handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a little butter or oil to fry with
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle (optional)
pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
2. Add the chicken breasts and brown on all sides, then cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
3. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves and pinch salt. Sweat the vegetables over low heat for 10 minutes until softened.
4. Cut the chicken into small strips and return to the pot. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
5. Add the rice and cook for a further 12-15 minutes (or follow packet instructions).
6. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the lemon juice and fresh parsley and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with a little virgin olive oil and add a pinch or dried chilli flakes if desired.
7. Serve hot with extra lemon wedges and some crusty bread on the side.