Lemon Chicken Soup

Ahhhh, leftovers.  Who here loves leftovers?  I’ll say that I do, but when I think of leftovers, I’m usually thinking of Thanksgiving leftovers.  Or those fantastic days when we had risotto the night before and there’s just enough left for my lunch the next day.  But what about those odds and ends that knock around the fridge?  Or vegetables that are starting to look a leetle long in the tooth?  Or – Heaven help me – that last quarter-box of spaghetti that seems doomed to sit in the pantry together?  Considered separately, these things are all unpleasant challenges that I’ll never overcome, food that is probably destined to ultimately go to waste.

Well, I’ve already established that I hate to throw food away.  But what’s to be done about leftovers that look decidedly unappetizing?  Answer: throw them into a soup.  After interacting with new flavors, almost-spent dishes take on a different – better – character.  This soup, which I first saw featured on an episode of Giada at Home, is a sparkling take on leftovers that actually elevates humble chicken soup to “treat” status.  The fresh lemon juice brightens the flavors of leftover chicken breasts and slightly-limp carrots and turns this soup into a dish where, honestly, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Lemon Chicken Soup

1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
2 carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
2 leftover chicken breasts, large-diced
1 handful spaghetti or other long pasta, broken into thirds (at least)
juice of 2 lemons

  • Heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and season with salt and pepper.  Saute until translucent.  Add carrots and saute until carrots are beginning to soften and take on golden color.
  • Add stock and water and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Add diced chicken and spaghetti.  Bring to a boil for 8-10 minutes, until the spaghetti is cooked.  Add lemon juice.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until ready to serve.

You can experiment with different add-ins; this soup would be a great foil for anything you may have aging (slightly) in your fridge.  I frequently have half a pack of spinach left over by just before the expiration date, and I’m definitely planning to throw that in next time!

Source: Adapted from Giada at Home.

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