My cold is still lingering and between my hacking cough and Mike being sick too, we’ve been having a lot of chicken soup. I fully believe the restorative qualities of chicken soup, especially if it has noodles in it. When I was sick as a kid, I used to live on Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, but now I find it much too salty.
Making chicken stock from scratch isn’t difficult, just time consuming. If you take the time to do it, you can make a lot at once and freeze it. Once you have a ton of chicken stock on hand, the possibilities are endless.
The other day we had a friend over who’s also recovering from a cold, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to make a chicken meatball, orzo and spinach soup. The grocery store didn’t have any stewing hens or chicken bones on sale so I made the stock with two legs.
I don’t really like using regular chicken to make stock because I find that if you cook chicken too long, it degrades and becomes stringy. To get around this, I simmer the chicken until it’s cooked, remove it, shred the chicken meat off and return the bones to the pot to simmer.
This chicken meatball soup is pretty fast to make, especially if you have people to chat with while you’re making the tiny meatballs. Tiny meatballs are a little fussy, but I love how they’re super tender and to be honest, I have a thing for miniature food.
With the rain beating down outside, the soup was hearty, warm and best of all, home made. But oh, I forgot to mention, we had a side of crap-tastic hot dogs with it too. What is it about being sick that makes you want to eat trashy, kid-comfort food?
Chicken Meatballs, Orzo and Spinach Soup Recipe
2 legs of chicken
3 quarts of water
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
4-5 stalks of celery chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
1 onion, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground chicken
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 onion finely chopped
3 tablespoons panko or breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup orzo pasta
2 cups roughly chopped spinach
Put the legs of chicken, carrots, celery and onion into a pot and fill with the 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and then lower to a bubbling simmer. Skim the scum as it appears. Alternatively, put the chicken legs in a pot, bring to a hard boil for 5 minutes and then rinse your chicken and wash your pot. Fill up the pot with fresh water and add the carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Hard boiling the chicken then rinsing it should reduce the skimming needed.
While your chicken stock is simmering, prepare your meatballs. Combine the ground chicken, egg, flat-leaf parsley, onion, and panko. Season and then taste by cooking a bit of the meatball mixture in the simmering stock. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Form tiny 2 teaspoon meatballs and keep in the fridge until your stock is done.
After about 30-45 minutes of simmering, your chicken legs should be cooked. Remove from the stock and cool. Shred the meat off the chicken and reserve for another use or you can just put it in the soup as well. Put the bones back into the stock and simmer. The stock will probably need another hour or so to really start tasting like chicken soup, so be patient.
Two or so hours from when you started, taste the soup and season accordingly. Scoop the solids out with a slotted spoon and discard. Turn the heat up and add the chicken meatballs and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until cooked – cut one up to see if it’s cooked throughout. While your meatballs are cooking, in another pot, cook the orzo according to the package. Drain and add to your soup. Add the roughly chopped spinach and serve hot.