The spring weather is entirely unpredictable this month. Last week and again today it turned cold, rainy and damp. I wanted some soup, but not the heavy soups of winter. Something lighter but still soothing and comforting, maybe with chicken and rice like I had as a child. Ta-dah! This soup fits the bill perfectly. Leeks, fresh peas and carrots signal spring and the lemon zest, lemon juice and basil keep it tangy and fresh. What a wonderful, tasty, springtime bowlful of bliss.
Lemon-y Chicken Soup with Basil, Veggies + Rice
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 leek, quartered, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and black pepper
1 t herbs de Provence
1 cup fresh English peas (or frozen peas)
1 cup zucchini, small dice
1 small head of broccoli, sectioned into small pieces
8 cups chicken stock
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed (I poached mine in some chicken stock in the microwave for about 10 minutes, covered, or you can use rotisserie chicken for convenience)
2 T lemon zest
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 cups cooked white rice, or more to your liking
1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil leaves
Melt the oil and the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the leeks, onions, carrots, and sweat for about 3-5 minutes until slightly tender and the leeks are becoming translucent. Add the garlic and a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and the herbs de Provence; stir to combine. Next, add the chicken stock, and bring to a gentle simmer; cover partially with a lid, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
Turn the heat off; add the peas, the zucchini, the broccoli, chicken breast, the lemon zest and juice; stir to combine, and allow the peas and zucchini to become crisp-tender and bright green in the hot stock, about 3-4 minutes; check to see if additional salt or pepper is needed. Stir in the rice and the basil. Serve hot with more lemon and basil if desired.
This soup freezes well. Makes enough for about 12 servings.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
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