I know I've been making a lot of soups lately, and also a lot of dishes with lemon. Well, tonight I combined both of those! I have a ton of recipes bookmarked in my cookbook, The Food of Portugal, and this is the first one I've actually made from that book. (A goal of mine is to make more recipes from my cookbooks, especially my Portuguese and Spanish ones!) This soup is simple, refreshing, and has the rich taste of good chicken broth with lemon. It is very light; it would be a perfect first course. Since we're not a 4-course family, we just had this for dinner tonight with a loaf of Portuguese bread from the local bakery, some local butter, and local cheese. My kids were scared of the mint at first (my daughter said "I only like mint in gum!") but after one taste they were hooked- they loved it too.
Canja-Chicken with Mint, Rice and Lemon adapted from "The Food of Portugal"
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
4 parsley sprigs
4 strips lemon zest (the colored part of the rind), each about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
1 sprig fresh mint
2 quarts rich chicken broth
1/3 cup raw rice, cooked separately by package directions*
3-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
salt, to taste
1/8 teaspoon white or black pepper
4-6 lemon slices, each stuck with a small sprig of mint
Simmer the chicken breast with the onion, parsley, lemon zest, and mint sprig in the chicken stock in a covered heavy saucepan over low heat 30-40 minutes until cooked through. Remove chicken breast and cool. Strain the broth through a sieve and return to the pan. Boil the stock uncovered 8-10 minutes to reduce slightly. Meanwhile, cut chicken breasts into large julienne, and add to the broth along with the cooked rice, lemon juice, chopped mint, salt (optional- I didn't need any), and pepper. Heat 2-3 minutes. Ladle into soup plates, float a mint-sprigged lemon slices in each portion, and serve.
*I cooked 1/3 cup raw, white rice in 2/3 cup boiling water (in a small covered saucepan) for about 15 minutes or until all water was absorbed.