Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
With temperatures dropping and plenty of seasonal colds going around, this time of year calls for curing, comforting chicken soup. This weeknight-friendly recipe features boneless chicken thighs to shorten the cooking time and starts by lightly searing them to both jump-start the process and intensify the chicken flavor that infuses the stock. To keep things quick, I used a pre-made stock from the grocery store, though it’s always better to use a homemade version, which you can keep in your freezer and thaw once you're ready to use it.
To make sure the stock is sufficiently packed with flavor, you’ll let it simmer with a good amount of salt, fresh ginger and another common character in cold-busting soups: turmeric. This spice is believed to provide a broad range of health benefits, among them anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but it also gives the soup a vibrant golden hue and warming, earthy flavors that mimic the ginger. Tender, stock-saturated carrots balance the ginger’s slight spice with pops of sweetness.
The orzo and pieces of shredded chicken make this soup hearty enough for dinner, but it’s not so heavy that it’ll make you sleepy. The finishing touches of lemon and parsley keep the dish fresh and bright. Adjust the amount of lemon juice to your taste; lemon juice happens to be one of my favorite accents for chicken soup, so I often find myself squeezing in a little extra at the end.
I expected to go with a white wine for this herb- and citrus-infused soup, but wound up preferring a Pinot Noir from France’s Burgundy region, Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Réserve 2017. Its red fruit flavors and minerality served as pleasing foils to the deep savoriness of the chicken. I even found it a bit nostalgic: It reminded me of having matzo ball soup alongside a fruit-driven red during Jewish celebrations like the Passover Seder, but with a twist to combat winter blues.
Weeknight Chicken Soup with Ginger, Turmeric and Lemon
Pair with a Pinot Noir or other elegant, fruit-forward red such as Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Réserve 2017 (90 points, $20).
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Approximate food costs: $30
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 tablespoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 2 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1/4 cup tightly packed fresh parsley, chopped
1. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add chicken thighs and sear until lightly browned on one side, about 3 minutes.
2. Flip chicken so its raw side is down and add stock, salt, ginger and tumeric. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to cool. Add carrots to the soup and continue simmering, covered, for another 10 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces.
4. Uncover soup and return to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Return chicken to the pot, season to taste with pepper, stir in lemon and parsley, and serve. Serves 4.