Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chicken Soup With Rice, Lemon, Dill and Red Pepper Flakes

When I taught school in a small Indiana town, a Greek family opened a small restaurant and made a wonderful chicken soup with dill, lemon and red pepper. Sometimes it had  meat, sometimes it didn't. After trial and error, the following is pretty close. 

  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock  Kitchen Bounty: Chicken/Turkey Stock
  • 1 stalk celery cut up/diced
  • 1 1/2 peeled carrots, thick parts cut lengthwise and then thinly sliced
  • A few pinches of dried thyme flakes
  • 1-3 teaspoons Kosher salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon or so of dried minced onion (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 3-4 strips of lemon zest (or to taste) that has been peeled with a vegetable peeler, reserved
  • A few pinches red pepper flakes, reserved
  • 6-8 tablespoons raw, white, long grained rice that has been washed and rinsed in a sieve under cold water until the water runs clear. Or use Orzo.
  • 1-3 teaspoons dried dill according to taste, reserved
  • Diced chicken meat (optional) I usually leave it out

Bring the above ingredients just until they begin to boil. Lower to a simmer and cover for 40 minutes or so, stirring occasionally and tasting and seasoning as you go.

About ten minutes before serving, turn onto the lowest setting add the reserved lemon peel, dill, and pepper flakes. Just let the soup sit partially covered so all the flavors blend.

You can always leave the soup as is and serve lemon, dill and pepper on the side.

Rinse the rice to get rid of the starch that can interfere with the broth’s taste.

By all means go ahead and use fresh dill, especially as a garnish, but you will need several teaspoons. Place leftover dill between paper towels to dry and store in a leftover spice jar. This works well with any fresh herb.

Begin with just a pinch or two of red pepper flakes—you can always add more. It will take a while for the “heat” of the flakes to be released into the soup as it simmers, so keep that in mind before deciding to add more.