Friday, October 2, 2015

Lemon & Coriander Chicken Soup

I'm a sucker for a good chicken noodle soup and this one is a winner! Inspired by a recipe I saw in the Bon Appetit Cookbook (one of my favorites), this delicious soup is a departure from the buck standard chicken noodle soup we're all used to and packs a punch of flavor like none other I've ever tasted. Lemon, tomato and a cocktail of herbs & spices give this delicious soup a lot of character. The lemon & coriander flavors are strong, yet complimentary and the tiny pasta shells are just right for soaking up the flavor and adding a bit of bite. I served this at a dinner party recently and it went down a treat… I immediately made it again and have been having it for lunch every day over the past week. It keeps well as leftovers and can easily be warmed up in a saucepan or in the microwave. It's a winner for me and perfect as a starter or a main course if you're the type to sit down with a hearty bowl of soup for lunch or dinner!

While the lemon slices for serving are completely optional, I highly suggest using them as they do add that extra little bit of lemon zing, not to mention that the presentation is beautifully colorful. 

2 tablespoons regular olive oil
350g of boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, cut into long thin strips
3 small onions quartered
680g passata
2 lemongrass stalks
Zest and juice of 2 large lemons
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 litres low-sodium chicken stock 
5 sprigs fresh coriander
300g conchigliette (or other small soup pasta shape)
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Lemon slices to serve (optional)

Serves 8-10 people… 

1. Cook the pasta in salted water with a drop of oil according to the packet instructions, checking 2 minutes before it's supposed to be done. Remember that it will soften more once put in the soup, so you're trying for al dente here.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot with a lid on medium heat and cook the chicken. When it's completely cooked through, remove it from the pan to a plate and set aside to cool.

3. Add the onions, lemon zest, lemongrass, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir and let it sizzle for about 20 seconds before adding 1/2 of the passata. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the 2 liters of chicken stock along with the fresh coriander sprigs. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Strain the fragrant broth into another large pan using a wire mesh strainer, throwing out the solid bits left in the strainer. Return the strained broth to the burner on medium-low heat and add the remaining passata.

6. Cut the cooked chicken into small, bite-sized strips or chunks and add to the soup. When the mixture is at simmering point just before boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the chicken along with the lemon juice. Stir in the cooked pasta and finely chopped coriander and continue to simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes or so until everything is heated through. Season with salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste before serving.

7. To serve, ladle into warmed bowls with a lemon slice or two on top.

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