Since we are on the brink of 2009 (where 2008 went, I have no idea), and since many people will resolve to lose weight/eat healthier, I figured I’d end the hear with a recent recipe find that can help the dieters among us. See, the key to healthier eating (which I’m sure you’ve heard a zillion times before) isn’t deprivation or voodoo or cutting out entire food groups. It’s just plain old moderation and common sense. Eat more of the good stuff and less of the bad. In my case, no one’s ever gonna tell me I can’t have some pizza or a burger. Unless they want to lose a limb, that is. But if I eat pizza or burgers on one day, I try to balance that with some extra nutrition on another.
Another way to stay on the wagon is to amp up the flavor of your healthier dishes. You can do this by adding spices and seasonings, which will kick up the volume without adding on the calories. In this soup, lemon zest and juice help take a healthy classic to new heights, which made me less unhappy about eating it for lunch all week (to balance the damage I will no doubt do to my waistline tonight and tomorrow). The orzo was also a nice change from the standard egg noodle, though you could certainly use whatever pasta you prefer.
I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light to make it a little simpler, and to account for the fact that I already had chicken stock on hand (I always do, and you always should). If you want to start from scratch and make the whole shebang all at once, you can buy a whole (uncooked) chicken, remove the giblets, and simmer in a Dutch oven with some mirepoix, garlic, bay leaves, and water (enough to cover everything) for about an hour. Then, remove the chicken, get rid of the skin, and cut the meat into small pieces. Strain the fat/solids from the liquid and start with the second paragraph of my recipe below.
Remove skin from chicken and discard. Remove chicken meat from bones (discard bones) and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Add enough water to stock to equal 9 cups; place mixture in a large Dutch oven. Add 1 1/3 cups carrot, 1 1/4 cups onion, 1 cup celery, and salt to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add reserved chicken, and simmer 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Keep warm.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add pasta to pan with chicken and broth mixture; stir in parsley, rind, and juice. You can serve immediately, but I find that soups get better with each passing day, so this recipe is perfect for leftovers. I like eating it either with crusty bread or a few oyster crackers.