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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

There is a certain greek restaurant in Columbus, Ohio that serves up the finest Avgolemono Soup that I have ever had.  I have always wanted to try to replicate it….tonight was my night!  Avgolemono is basically a lemony version of chicken noodle soup but substituting orzo or some type of rice for noodles.  Avgolemono Soup typically calls for eggs to thicken the soup added in a way that they are tempered by some of the hot broth and then added to the pot of soup.  I love how the eggs thicken the soup but I wasn’t wanting to get that fancy tonight (I haven’t felt so great today but was I still determined to cook a healthy meal for my family).  So, here is my easy knock off of Avgolemono Soup thickened by pureeing a few cups of the broth, vegetables and orzo.  This soup is flavorful, filling, and healthy.  The bright lemony flavor makes it great anytime of the year, even in the heat of summer!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, diced

1 ½ cups carrots, chopped

1 ½ cups celery, chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 48 oz. can + 2 14.5 oz cans reduced sodium chicken broth

2-3 lemons, juiced

8 oz. orzo (or farro, barley, wild rice etc. if you are wanting more of a whole grain to keep it “Clean”)

1 rotisserie chicken or 4 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded

Directions:

Debone rotisserie chicken and set aside OR boil chicken breasts in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked through; remove to cool, shred and set aside.  In large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, carrots and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened.  Add chicken broth and bring to boil.  Add 8 oz orzo and cook approximately 8 minutes until orzo is cooked through (if using other grains, follow package directions on how long to boil).  Add juice of two lemons.  To thicken, remove about 4 cups of soup mixture – make sure you have equal parts of vegetables, orzo and broth — and place in blender (REMEMBER: remove the centerpiece in the top of your blender to let the heat vent but hold a dish towel over it to avoid spattering). Blend until smooth and then pour back into the pot.  Blend more for a thicker soup.  Add chicken to soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste and garish with extra lemon, and fresh parsley or dill.  Serve with crusty wheat bread or a green salad.