There’s a quality to the late spring and early summer sunlight that is different from any other time of year; it’s yellower, brighter and seemingly more deliberate, somehow. The sun shines down on us from a high point in the mellow blue sky in this warm season, and for me, takes on an almost “tangy” quality—a lemony and piquant “high note”.
Late spring and early summer remind me of one of my favorite pieces of produce that I so often use to liven up so many of my foods, both sweet and savory—the fragrant and refreshing lemon.
If a lemon were a person, it seems like it’d be the talkative type, and far from being shy. Lemons are bold and colorful, alive and wonderful in bringing out the best qualities in other foods, and they do it seamlessly. Their flavor often ties everything together into a palette-pleasing and awakening experience, something which begins to be craved in the dishes of this time of year, in particular.
When the weather starts to become warm, and the light outside gets bigger and more golden, a simple and refreshing meal that takes only a few moments to put together sounds like the perfect thing to prepare. Bright, seasonal vegetables, tender chicken, fresh basil and some healthy quinoa come together to create a little “spring harvest” in a bowl—a delicious and light soup finished with a healthy squeeze of a vibrantly ripe and juicy lemon.
It’s spring-time reproduced in a colorful and broth-y soup, and a little taste of sunshine in my spoon.
It always makes me happy when I can somehow capture the unique characteristics of a season in a meal. Mildly tangy, light and healthy, this Lemony Chicken & Spring Veggie Soup with Quinoa and Fresh Basil is the perfect bowl of goodness to prepare for this “lemony” time of year.
So enjoy the glow of the sunlight; enjoy the lightness of the breeze as it flitters and dances around you. Treat yourself to a little taste of the color of the season, and allow a bit of late spring’s tangy light to shimmer and glisten in your spoon.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Simple Lemony Chicken & Spring Veggie Soup with Quinoa & Fresh Basil
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 leek, quartered, white part sliced
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced small (if you can find multi-colored carrots, those are beautiful)
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
• 4 cups chicken stock, hot
• 1 cup fresh English peas (or frozen peas)
• 1 cup baby zucchini, small dice
• 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed (you can use rotisserie chicken for convenience)
• 2 teaspoons lemon zest
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 cups cooked quinoa
• ¼ cup chopped, fresh basil leaves
• 4 lemon wedges, garnish
-Place a medium-large soup pot over medium heat; add in the butter and olive oil, and once melted, add in the sliced leek and diced carrots, and sweat for about 3-5 minutes, or until slightly tender and the leeks are becoming translucent.
-Add in the garlic, and once that becomes aromatic, add in a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and the herbs de Provence; stir to combine.
-Next, add in the hot chicken stock, and bring to a gentle simmer; cover partially with a lid, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
-Turn the heat off; add in the English peas (or frozen peas), the diced baby zucchini, the shredded or cubed chicken breast, and the lemon zest and juice; stir to combine, and allow the peas/zucchini to become crisp-tender and bright green in the hot stock, about 3-4 minutes; check to see if additional salt or pepper is needed.
-To serve, add about ½ cup of the cooked quinoa to a bowl, and ladle some of the soup with the veggies and chicken over top; sprinkle over some of the fresh basil, and squeeze in some additional lemon juice from the lemon wedge garnish, if desired.