The secret to this soup is actually quite simple.
This secret ingredient adds richness because of it's fat content, but manages to keep the soup light and refreshing. Any guesses? Well, if coconut milk came to your mind, you're right my friend! If it didn't, don't worry. It's not exactly obvious. But I do want you to give it a try. I find the addition of the coconut milk to be the balancing factor between the fresh lemon and herbs and the chicken and pasta. This soup is perfect for winter because it's so satisfying and nourishing but not at all heavy. It's the kind of soup you want to eat when you still have a full day of work ahead of you. So give it a shot my friend!
A few tips before you get started:
- I like to butterfly my chicken breasts to cook them, and I suggest you do the same. It'll speed up the cooking time, and you won't be guessing about the doneness. See the technique below.
- Don't worry about pounding the chicken for this recipe (as you'll see it suggested below). Just cut it in half and cook it up. Be sure to add it to hot oil or butter so that you get a good sear (browning) and lock in all those yummy flavors.
- If chicken isn't your thing and you want to make this veg., be sure to add something umami. The coconut milk will do it a little, but maybe add some Tamari instead of salt for an extra kick of umami. Or mushrooms. I bet seared and marinated tempeh would be great in this, too. Don't be afraid to play with whatever's in your fridge or inspiring you in the moment.
- Only add half the box of orzo and no more, even if it seems to be sparse at first. Orzo will plum right up and continue absorbing the liquid. You may even need to add more broth as the orzo cooks.
- Be slow to add the lemon at the end. Lemon is a hard flavor to fix. Start with half a lemon as the recipe calls for and then add more as you taste. Also note that lemon brings out a bit of saltiness so it's best to proceed slowly with both flavors.
- 2 chicken breasts, trimmed
- 2 medium onion, diced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 2 bay leaves
- pinch of pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1.5 qt chicken stalk, plus 2 cups for finishing
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/2 package orzo
- 1/2 fresh lemon