In the three years I have been writing this blog, you may have noticed that I haven’t shared any meat-centric recipes — or used much meat at all. This isn’t because meat hasn’t been meat on our table. It was for several years, then it wasn’t at all, and now it’s back again. Like many people, especially those of you reading this blog, we’ve thought a lot about what we eat and have done our fair share of experimenting.
For several years for a lot of our family meals, I’ve cooked two dinners. One for Brad and the kids (with meat) and one for me (without). I’ve gotten pretty good at making one dish, splitting it into two, adding appropriate protein and — voila! — a meal to suit each person. This may sound like a ridiculous waste of time and effort but at the time I loved the challenge and I wanted to respect everyone’s wishes about food and their bodies’ needs.
It worked for a while, sort of. I love food and cooking as much as anyone, but it just got to be way too time consuming. And I felt like even though I was holding true to my intentions it was less rewarding than truly sharing in the eating experience with everyone else at the table.
Recently I’ve switched to only cooking one dinner, and about half the time it’s made with meat. I still don’t eat the meat but I don’t balk anymore if there was chicken in the soup. I just eat around it. Can I tell you how much lighter the dish load is now? Meals are actually more pleasurable, too, both in the cooking and eating.
This recipe is one of my favorites to “eat around the meat.” It’s everything good about chicken noodle soup — a gorgeous golden broth, hearty veggies and the noodles, of course, but the next-level taste is totally owed to the lemon, dill and white wine trifecta. They add such a bright flavor to the comforting bowl of love!
This is the most requested soup I make. And if I’m being honest, I’ve thought about sharing this recipe with you before but I’ve been too selfish until now. I hope you and yours love this soup as much as we do!
Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup
A couple tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
3 to 4 ribs celery, preferably the inner most ribs with lots of leaves, chopped
1 head of fennel, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
7 cups homemade vegetable stock (or in a pinch I use Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillion with Sea Salt & Herbs)
1 fresh bay leaf
A couple sprigs of thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 roasted chicken, flesh torn into bite size pieces and larger bones saved to toss in as it simmers
About 8 ounces fusilli or noodles of your choice
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
lemon, zested and juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot. Add chopped onion, give a stir and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic, carrots, celery and fennel. Cook for a few more minutes until those start to soften. Add wine and simmer off some of the alcohol, then pour in the stock, herbs, torn chicken and bones. Simmer for about 40 minutes, mostly covered. Stir in pasta, cook for another 8 to 10 minutes until noodles are al dente. Finally add fresh dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf, taste and adjust seasoning. I usually end up using the lemon juice, too. We like ours extra-lemon-y.
Variations: Rice or quinoa stand in for pasta beautifully here. I often switch out the chicken for cooked chickpeas. Stirring in a shredded zucchini toward the end adds beautiful color and gives the soup more body if you skip on the noodles. Really the base of this soup is just so darn good you can add just about anything and come away happy!