Chicken and Orzo Soup with Arugula

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I'm a firm believer that chicken noodle soup can cure a cold. This fresh spring version is packed with arugula,basil, carrots and whole grain orzo. 

Is anyone else currently dying a slow, painful death like I am right now?  Maybe it's my affinity for drama speaking, but honestly, I have felt horrible these past two weeks!  I seem to get sick every year when the weather changes.  Unfortunately, with the temperature flipping between 40 and 80 degrees for the past two months, this year has been worse than normal.  My throat hurts, my nose is runny, and my ears are constantly ringing...although that last one probably has more to do with our neighbors new heavy metal band.  As much fun as I had this weekend in OBX celebrating a friends upcoming nuptials, it didn’t exactly speed up my healing process.  I was only at work 15 minutes on Monday before I caught myself asking "Is it Friday yet?"  Clearly, I'm exhausted.

I truly believe homemade chicken soup can cure all ills.  Remember the dad in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and his obsession with windex?  That's on par with my feelings about chicken soup.  You might brush it off as an old wives tale, but chicken soup has been recommended by physicians since ancient Egyptian times.  There's even research to back up it's efficacy.  Yup, someone actually did a study on chicken noodle soup for colds.  The researcher found chicken soup has an anti-inflammatory effect that inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis, which is apparently the source of many cold and flu related symptoms (who knew?).

Of course, the soup used in the study was absolutely not the stuff that comes in a can.  They used a recipe packed with plenty of veggies - sweet potatoes, celery, parsley, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Condensed chicken noodle soup is also made with plenty of ingredients (19 to be exact), but only one is kinda sorta a vegetable - dehydrated garlic.  And it's the last ingredient.  If you think the non-condensed versions are a better option, sorry, but it just ain't so.  With 1,000-2,000 mg of sodium in one can, that hypertension induced headache certainly isn't going to make you feel better.

Sick with a cold in the midst of a South Carolina spring, my typical root vegetable heavy chicken noodle soup recipes just wouldn't do. This recipe is packed with flavorful spring greens, herbs and bright lemon zest.  While my cold isn't exactly cured, I sure felt a heck of a lot better while eating this!

Chicken noodle soup for the soul
Serves: 4 to 6
Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 32-ounce low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 1-2 bunches of arugula (about 4 cups chopped)
  • 1 small bunch of basil (about 1 cup chopped)
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and brown on all sides.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, bay leaf and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 8 minutes until softened.
  3. Pour in the broth and water. Bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the arugula, basil and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with plenty of parmesan cheese.

 

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