Lemon orzo soup with chicken and spinach, and morning glory muffin

by Sue Ready

“I live on good soup, not on fine words.” — Moliere, French playwright, director and actor, 1622-1673

Looking for a warm up? Soup’s on with a flavorful lemon orzo soup. It’s packed with veggies, chunks of chicken and bits of spinach. Pair the soup with a hearty morning glory muffin.

Lemon orzo soup with chicken and spinach

Cook’s notes: Recipe serves 4. Use a rotisserie chicken as a time saver.

Ingredients:

3 large pieces of cooked chicken, shredded or diced chicken (about 3 cups)  

1 cup each sweet onions, celery, carrots, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1-1/2 TB. olive oil

1/2 tsp. each thyme, rosemary, tarragon

1 tsp. parsley

1 container 48 oz. chicken broth (low sodium)

3/4  cup dried orzo

1 small-medium lemon (zest and juice)

3-4 cups torn spinach leaves, stems removed

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat oil and saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Then cover and sweat veggies on low, about 8 minutes. Uncover and add in spices, broth and orzo. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer just until orzo is al dente, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, mix in lemon juice and zest. Add in cooked chicken pieces and spinach leaves. Heat until spinach leaves are wilted.

Optional adding in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese right before serving.

Since orzo will absorb liquid, more broth may be needed for leftovers.

Morning glory muffins

Cook’s notes: Morning glory muffins are a throwback to the  land of the ‘60s. A recipe that combines great taste with a chewy texture of carrots and the wonderful flavors of apple, raisins, coconut, nuts and cinnamon all put together in an earthy whole-grain muffin. Morning glory muffins are just the right kind of treat to start your day. Prepare the batter the night before and just pop the muffins in the oven the next day. Recipe makes 18 muffins and was adapted from KingArthurFlour.com

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raisins

2 cups white whole wheat flour + 1 extra tablespoon or 1 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 extra tablespoon

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups shredded carrots (use a food processor for this step)

1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced (small)

1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Optional: 1/3 cup wheat germ

3 large eggs

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with papers.

In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak while you assemble the rest of the recipe.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and wheat germ if using.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange juice.

Add the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened.

Drain the raisins and stir them in.

Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan (they’ll be full almost to the top). Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake the muffins for 17-18 minutes, until they’re nicely domed and a toothpick  inserted in the center of one of the inner muffins comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, let cool for 3 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Twice a month The Seasonal Plate food column will highlight dishes inspired by the changing seasons. My passion for travel, poetry, writing, exploring new cuisines, trying recipes and cooking  have been inspiration for the recipes I have published on my blog http://www.sockfairies.blogspot.com.

Questions/comments at: theseasonalplate@outlook.com

Sue Ready is a writer, poet and former middle school teacher. She is the president of the Northwoods Arts Council in Hackensack.

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