Solving a Mystery and Making Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

It’s not about winning or losing, but love and respect. Max Lucado

Our little friend Twiggy is visiting us this week.  We thought Lou would enjoy having some company since he lost his pal Keats a few weeks ago. And truth be told, we needed the company as well.  Twiggy’s a tiny dog – she weighs abut 15 pounds and stands about a foot high.  She’s a mixture of Italian Greyhound and Rat Terrier, and so sweet! She loves running around in our fenced-in yard.  And when I say “fenced-in” I mean a 6-foot fence that extends into the ground.  So after she’d been here a day or two, my next door neighbor came over to report that Twiggy had been leaving “presents” in her yard. Which completely puzzled me, because we have a fenced-in yard. And just to reiterate, when I say “fenced-in” I mean a 6-foot fence. We talked for a bit and she added that the neighbor who lives behind us, across the alley, had chased her out of his yard several times. Now Twiggy can jump pretty high – she easily jumps up 3 feet onto the table by the window – so I thought she may have been getting out by jumping up on something by the fence (like the summer lawn furniture which is now stacked for the winter).  But I couldn’t understand how she could get back in if she was escaping. And frankly I was pretty sure there was another small black and white dog running around, because our neighborhood is full of dogs.  And neither neighbor had been able to catch her, although it was weird that it seemed like the only time there were “presents” was when Twiglet visits us. 

Well, yesterday I left Twiggs in the house and Lou and I went outside.  I was trying to see if there was somewhere she could get out. Jim decided to let her out because she was raising such a ruckus. She came shooting out the back door and jumped the fence.  THE SIX FOOT FENCE. Sailed over it like a bird. I was so shocked I almost didn’t believe what I had seen – but luckily the other neighbor and Jim both saw it.  Apparently the little fart’s been just jumping in and out at will, and apparently she doesn’t like to use her own backyard as a potty. Honestly, I can’t remember being that surprised – at least not for a very long time!! Unfortunately, she’ll jump over at any provocation, so now I’ve got to put her on a lead when she’s outside. And it has to be set up just right so she can’t jump the fence – I sure don’t want her hanging there if she tries it (not to fear – she’s got a harness so we don’t hook up to her collar).  But I need to keep her safe. There are lots of fast cars in our neighborhood.

Okay, it’s finally COLD out. We’ve had an absolutely amazing fall here in Minnesota, but like they say, “don’t like the weather in Minnesota?  No problem, just wait 5 minutes”. Today I went out for lunch at about noon – it was practically balmy at almost 50 degrees and sunny!  No wind to speak of, just a beautiful day.  I needed to have the window in the car open.  Five hours later I left work, and it was so windy and cold that I couldn’t even stand outside for a few minutes to talk to a friend! We even had to put a coat on the Twiglet since she’s practically naked.

And to add insult to injury, it’s dark out very early now (since daylight savings time switched over). I know it’s terrible, but I’m counting down the days until 12/21 – the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year. I love that day – the very next day the days start to get longer.  If you aren’t from Minnesota you may not understand the impact this has on being able to get through the coldest and snowiest part of the year. We’re being told this winter is going to be similar to last winter – when we broke records for snowfall amounts. After the Winter Solstice, as early as a month later, you can see a real difference in the light. My mom and step dad started wintering in Florida about 10 years ago.  At first I couldn’t understand why – but now, I completely see the point! I really think I’d love to live in Alaska in the summertime, when it’s light out for almost 24 hours. But Minnesota is a truly beautiful place to live, even in the dead of winter.

So tonight it’s going to be a chilling 23 degrees for the low temp. A perfect soup night! And one of my favorite soups is  Greek Lemon Chicken soup. You may recall that I made this for my Girl’s Games and Giving group in September.  It was a big hit, and I decided to make another batch.  This soup has a lovely lemon flavor.  I believe I found this recipe on All Recipes but I’m not sure. I do know that the original recipe called for double the amount of lemon juice, but I like the lemon flavor to be a bit more subtle.  Experiment – you may enjoy a more intense lemon flavor. I love to make BIG batches of soup when I do make it, because it’s great freezer food – I can take a frozen container for lunch and it acts like an ice pack in my lunch bag – but by the time lunch rolls around it’s thawed quite a bit, and I just have to nuke it for a minute or two.  This soup freezes nicely as long as you freeze it without any additions like rice or noodles.

Start with these simple ingredients.

Dice the onions and celery and grate the carrots.

You’ll need some white pepper (watch out, it’ll make you sneeze!)

Mix the veggies, pepper, chicken base, lemon juice and chicken stock together in a large heavy saucepan.  Cook until the veggies are tender – about 20 minutes or so.

While the veggies are cooking, you’ll need to gather eggs, flour, cooked chicken and butter. You can use rotisserie chicken if you like, or just cook some chicken breasts (I like to rub them with a little olive oil, add some salt and pepper, and bake for about 45 minutes at 350°).

Separate the yolks from the whites, and save the whites for something else (you can freeze them!)

Beat the egg yolks until they lighten to a lemon yellow.

Mix together the flour and butter, and gradually add it to the soup, whisking constantly. After it’s mixed in thoroughly, simmer the soup for another 10 minutes or so to thicken it. Take some of the hot soup and pour slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly – this will temper the eggs so they won’t scramble.  Pour the eggs back into the soup and heat through.

Dice the chicken and add to the soup – heat through.

This soup is wonderful “as-is”, but I like it even better with rice. I make the rice separately and I don’t add it to the soup – this is because I like to freeze it – and cooked rice seems mushy to me after it’s been frozen.

Add the soup to the rice, and you have some warm and filling yumminess!

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh or reconstituted lemon juice (fresh is always better!)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 tablespoons chicken base (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • cooked white rice

Directions:

  1. Combine the onions, celery, carrots, lemon juice, white pepper and chicken stock in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Mix the flour and butter together into a smooth paste.  Gradually whisk this mixture into the simmering soup.  Continue to simmer for about 10 more minutes.
  4. Beat the egg yolks until they turn a light lemon color, about 60 seconds. Very gradually add about 1 cup of the hot soup to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously and constantly.  This tempers the eggs so they don’t scramble from the heat. 
  5. Pour the egg/soup mixture back into the the saucepan and cook several more minutes until heated through, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the chicken and heat through.
  7. Serve alone or over cooked rice.
  8. This soup can be frozen.

 

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