Chicken and tomato soup with lemon

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to the BBC Good Food Eat Well show in London, thanks to LexusUK. It was the first year that BBC has put on an event specifically about healthy eating. It was an interesting day, and better than I expected, though there were even more mushy brown “energy” bars and recipe box delivery services than I could have imagined.

Some of the highlights included trying some amazing hot and cold smoked anchovies from The Fickle Fish, and catching up with Riverford Organics, who I’m already a customer of and pretty much love.

Fickle Fish

The top moment, though, was getting to spend some time with Gizzi Erskine. If you don’t know her, went from working in a body-piercing shop to becoming a TV chef, and such an interesting person to talk to. For a cooking demonstration, she made a Chicken and Orzo soup that I said I just had to write about on my blog. Obviously it didn’t occur to me to get a photo with her – I think I still need some practice with selfie-ing.

And, with a head cold brewing this week, I could think of nothing more comforting and delicious than a rich, tomatoey chicken soup. Once you start making it, the promise of what’s to come is almost too much to bear. I might be guilty of picking the crispy browned chicken skin off and snacking on it…

chicken and tomato soup

I mean look at that browning… how could I resist?

I made a few adjustments to suit my taste and seasonality, like cutting down on the lemon and orzo portions and using canned tomatoes instead of fresh. (There is no way I’m going to find good tomatoes in March.) Check out the original recipe if you want to compare!

chicken and tomato soup with lemon

Serves: 4 (or 6 if you want smaller portions)

On the Counter

1 liter chicken stock
1 liter filtered water
150g (5.25 oz) orzo pasta (or white rice for a gluten free option)
1 medium free range chicken, cut into 8/10 pieces, or 8 thighs and drumsticks
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 400ml (14.5 oz) can of tomatoes, pureed
2 tbsp olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves or regular spinach, chopped
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, desemmed and chopped
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Black pepper

What to Do

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat until it’s shimmering.

While the oil’s heating, season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt and black pepper.

Fry the chicken, skin-side down to start, in batches until browned on both sides, about 4-5 minutes each side until the skin is brown and toasty. If it’s sticking to the pan, it’s not ready yet.

Take them out of the pan and set the chicken aside.

Lower the heat and add the onion, sauteeing for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until they’re soft. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes and sautee for another minute.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, making sure that there are no big chunks. Turn the heat up to medium-high.

Pour in the chicken stock and filtered water and then add the chicken and thyme.

Cook for 25 minutes, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced by 1cm.

Remove the chicken. and leave it for a few minutes to cool. Pull the chicken off the bone and shred it. Add the chicken back into the soup, along with orzo. Cook for another 10-11 minutes, stirring frequently so the orzo doesn’t stick.  Add the spinach, and stir it in until it wilts. Add the parsley, lemon juice and zest. Serve!

This also makes great leftovers!

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