Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup {giveaway}

After the second round of illness hit our home, I knew it was time for some soup. Rather than a traditional Chicken Noodle Soup recipe I decided to make a Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup because it felt a little more spring-like and perfect for those darn springtime sniffles.

lemon chicken soup

Unfortunately for Eric is was more than a case of the sniffles. He was sick the entire weekend (Friday-Sunday) with high fever, sniffles, and bad cough. Then he was fine during the week, only to catch the same thing again the following weekend. Only this time it was worse.

These days I start any recipe with shredded chicken in the pressure cooker, similar to this Crock Pot or Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken. You can also use a crock-pot but that require more time and some planning ahead.

I love how pressure cookers allow me to speed things up in the kitchen. (Related: Review of the Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker). When I’m really in a rush, I don’t thaw the chicken breast first, I just put it frozen in the pressure cooker and add about 5-10 minutes to the cook time.

oyster crackers

I know some people find pressure cookers intimidating so I thought I’d share a couple of quick tips for first-time users:

Pressure Cooker Tips

Don’t Overfill the Cooker

Pressure Cookers typically come with marks on the inside indicating 1/2 and 2/3 full markings. Because foods expand when cooked, pressure cookers should be fill at most 1/2 full for foods and 2/3 full for liquids.

Recipe Liquids

Pressure Cookers require less liquid than traditional recipes because less liquid evaporates, but you will never want to use less liquid that recommended in a recipe built specifically for pressure cookers.

Heat Level

The trickiest part of pressure cooker cooking for me is the heat level. It takes a few times to know what temperature range you want your stove on to maintain the pressure required in your recipe.

If the pressure builds too high, simply turn the heat down. Newer models typically have built in safety mechanisms to auto-release steam so you don’t have to worry about explosive pressure cookers but you don’t want to over-cook your food.

Likewise, if you need the pressure to be higher just turn the heat up.

Cook Time

For recipes like this shredded chicken, begin by bringing the mixture to a boil without the lid on. Then, secure the lid and bring the cooker to the proper pressure (whatever the recipe calls for). Don’t start the cook time until you’ve achieved that pressure.

Releasing Pressure

Be careful when you are opening your cooker after cooking. Please make sure that the pressure has been completely released before opening it.

On my cooker it takes about 10 minutes for the pressure to release by itself (i.e. just sitting there off of the burner) before it is safe to open it,  however models may vary. My cooker also has a fast release button if I need to speed things up.

A good rule of thumb is if the lid gives you resistance when you try to open it: it is not ready yet, there is still a build up of pressure inside. Additionally, be sure to tilt the lid away from your face as there will be steam escaping when you open the lid.

lemon chicken soup with spinach and orzo

This Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup with Spinach was a nice change from the typical hearty tasting Chicken Noodle Soup. It tasted light and springy. Just because winter is over (or almost…), doesn’t mean you won’t still want soup once in a while.

Westminster Cracker has a fun giveaway for you so read on after the recipe for the rules and prize information. I don’t normally buy oyster crackers, but these were really good and Madeline loved them for snacking on.

Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup

serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:
1 lb. chicken (I like boneless, skinless breasts)
1 stalk celery, cut into thirds
half of a lemon, sliced
handful of fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth

For the soup:

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
3 carrots, sliced into rounds
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 - 3/4 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
3 egg yolks
2 - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 - 3 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach, chopped

Directions:

For the chicken:
Combine all the ingredients in a 5 liter pressure cooker. If the chicken is frozen, that is okay. Bring the mixture to a boil. Secure the lid and bring to high pressure. Once high pressure is achieved, cook for 20 minutes (for thawed) or 30 minutes (for frozen chicken).

Remove from heat and let pressure release completely before opening the lid. Let the chicken cool until it is cool enough to handle. Shred and set aside.

For the Soup:

Add 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil in a large dutch oven. Saute the onion over medium-high heat until golden and tender. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.

Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and carrot. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and lemon together. Add 1 cup of hot broth from the dutch oven very slowly to the egg yolk mixture, whisking as you pour. Then, transfer the mixture to the dutch oven. Stir in the orzo and chicken.

Continue cooking over medium-low until the pasta and carrots are tender. Just before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the thyme, parsley, and spinach. Serve immediately.

Before you enter the giveaway PLEASE read the rules.

Giveaway Prize (1 winner):

sur la table giveaway

Prize provided by Westminster Crackers.

Giveaway Requirements:

  • Head over to Westminster Cracker, take a look around and tell me something you like about their products.
  • You may NOT enter using multiple email addresses. Automatic disqualification.
  • Additional entries must leave a separate comment.
  • Contest ends April 6, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • Contest open to US States only.
  • Winner will be chosen via random.org and will have 3 days to respond before disqualified and a new winner chosen.

Extra Entries:

Additional entries can be earned by doing any of the following, giving you a total of 6 entries. Leave a separate comment for each of your entries.

1. Follow Westminster Cracker on Twitter and ReTweet the following message: Win a @westmincrackers and @sur_la_table soup gift basket over at @goodlifeeats http://su.pr/1saZXp #giveaway

2. Become a fan of GoodLife Eats on Facebook.

3. Become a fan of Westminster Cracker on Facebook.

4. Share the link for this giveaway on your wall via Facebook and tag @goodLife {eats} in your message. (winner will need to verify). Link: http://su.pr/1saZXp

5. Give one of the following posts a Stumble using Stumble Upon, then leave a comment here telling me which post you stumbled.