Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chicken and Lentil Soup

In between my Disney Cruise Line posts discussing Remy and Palo, I thought I'd share a Disney recipe hailing from the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café, a Mary Poppins-themed eatery on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park.

I know the colder weather (for the most part) is behind us, but I still crave soup on rainy days, even in the summer, so today I'm sharing a really hearty yet healthy chicken and lentil soup!

Lentil soup is a favorite of mine, and I've actually shared four different ones on Mission: Food in the past, from Armenian lentil soup with macaroni to my grandma's red lentil soup and carrot-red lentil soup with Asian spices, and finally the most deluxe of them all, autumn vegetable soup with sausage and green lentils. This chicken and lentil soup is somewhat similar in flavor to the Armenian lentil soup with macaroni, but without the lemon, and with diced chicken breast instead of the macaroni.

I've made this chicken and lentil soup twice now, and it's so hearty and satisfying. It's very low in fat, using only some cooking spray to cook the chicken and vegetables. This high-protein soup is a great way to keep up your energy, while taking comfort in a hot bowl of thick soup. I'm waiting for that next rainy day!

Chicken and Lentil Soup
Serves 6
(Adapted from Kitchen Magic with Mickey)

1 pound dry lentils (about 2 1/2 cups) (any variety of lentils will work, but I use brown lentils)
5 1/2 cups water
3 large cloves garlic, chopped, divided
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro stems
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Vegetable oil spray
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
3/4 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or stock, divided
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Fresh cilantro, for garnish, optional

Combine lentils, water, half the garlic, cilantro sprigs, finely diced onion, and cumin in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes, or until lentils are tender (they will continue to cook in a later step). Remove the cilantro stems and discard them.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Spray vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat and add chicken. Sear until chicken is golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the diced onion, carrots, celery, and remaining garlic, and cook until the vegetables are softened and onion is translucent. Season with salt and pepper.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the skillet, using a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and broth mixture to the pot of lentils along with the remaining cup of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chopped cilantro just before serving. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

*Cook's Note* For a vegetarian version, substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth, and russet potatoes for chicken.


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