Soups on! Still. Like, all the time lately. There is nothing I love more than a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. Add some freshly baked bread and it’s pretty near perfect. Chicken soup is supposedly good for the soul, colds and who knows what else. This Greek-inspired soup also incorporates another favourite healthy ingredient, lemon. Spinach too. It’s also creamy, but contains no cream. All of the thickening is done with the addition of a bit of orzo and eggs.
As a newly selected Brand Ambassador for Chicken Farmers of Canada in 2015, you’ll continue to see a wide variety of chicken recipes from me. What will be new are the tidbits of chicken knowledge that I’ll share with you when I learn them.
Chicken Farmers of Canada represents the 2800 chicken farmers all across Canada. These farmers use various methods to raise their birds. These varieties are (taken from chicken.ca):
Free range birds must have access to the outdoors. However, since there is no legal definition of free range in Canada, this can vary from farm to farm. Be wary of “fresh” free range chicken in stores when it’s -30 degrees outside, it may have been frozen product defrosted for sale and should not be re-frozen.
Free run is different than free range in that chickens do not necessarily need to be raised outside but they are required to be able to move around freely within the barn. Though there is no legal definition of this, all chickens raised for meat in Canada are considered free run.
Since all chicken in Canada is given a feed that consists of at over 88% grain, this term is typically just used for marketing. Chicken labeled as “grain fed” is stating the obvious, though some brands boast special types of grain, such as vegetarian grain.
With respect to food, Islamic laws are very specific and Muslims seek to eat foods defined as “Halal,” which is defined by Muslims as “that which is allowed.” Essentially, “Halal” means permitted by God, or “Allah,” the Law-Giver. Muslims are taught that the animals must be well-rested and handled in a way that minimizes suffering. Many stores offer Halal choices in stores – although some regions may have limited availability. Check with your local store for more information. More information on Halal meat and Halal standards can be sought by contacting the Islamic Society of North America at www.isnacanada.com.
Hormone Free and/or Steroid Free
Though it is rare, some marketers still classify their chicken as “hormone-free.” This is little more than a marketing tactic, since the use of hormones in raising poultry has been banned since the 1960s in Canada.
Kosher products refer to the content and production requirements, not necessarily to any specific cuisine. In Hebrew, kosher means “fit” or “proper,” indicating that the food products meet the dietary requirements of Jewish law. The Jewish dietary laws are collectively known as the laws of kashruth and deal with what foods may be eaten together and how those foods are to be prepared.
During the processing stage, salt and water are used to prepare the chicken for market. The guidelines for kosher certification are strict and the product must still pass through government inspection in order to be sold in stores or shipped to restaurants. Kosher products are sold across the country and are widely available. For more information, you can visit the Kashruth Council of Canada at www.cor.ca.
Chicken that is sold as “organic” is raised to a specific standard as laid out by the Canadian General Standards Board, in addition to the standards set by a reputable organic certification board. Since these boards vary from province to province, there are slight differences in the rules for organic farming in different areas of the country, but in general, organic chicken must be raised with at certified organic feed that contains no animal by-products or antibiotics and any supplements, such as vitamins, must be approved by a certification body.
Raised Without Antibiotics
Raised without antibiotics on the label means that the chicken was not treated in any way with antibiotics. For more information on the use of antibiotics in raising chicken, visit the Antibiotics section at chicken.ca.
Vegetarian Grain Fed
Vegetarian grain fed, on the other hand, means that the feed given to the flock contains no animal by-products, which are often added to feed as a protein source. In these cases, the feed contains only vegetable protein such as soy, which can alter the flavour and colour of the meat. While chickens are omnivores, chickens can be raised on vegetarian feed, as long as an appropriate protein level is achieved.
Are you surprised at these definitions? I know I was. It’s interesting how marketing terms overshadow reality sometimes.
Soup. Back to the soup. Here’s how I made it:
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- ½ store cooked rotisserie chicken, bone-in, skin removed (if the chicken is extra large, you might just want to use the breast portion)
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- Juice of two lemons, separated
- ½ cup orzo, uncooked
- 2 large handfuls of raw baby spinach
- 2 whole eggs plus 2 additional egg yolks
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and lightly saute the onions until they are softened. Add the chicken, water, broth, orzo and the juice of one lemon and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes and then remove the chicken to a cutting board and remove the soup from the heat.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones with two forks and shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and put back in the soup. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and additional egg yolks along with the remaining lemon juice. Once frothy, slowly pour a ladle-full of the hot broth into the egg mixture, whisking all the while. Now, stir the egg mixture back into the soup pot. Add in the fresh dill along with the spinach and check for seasoning. Great as is, this soup is also enhanced by the addition of some crumbled feta cheese upon serving.
There are oodles of chicken recipes to be found on the Chicken Farmers of Canada website. Once there, you can search by a variety of categories and even by nutritional indicators such as low carb or diabetic-friendly. You can also get inspiration by following Chicken Farmers of Canada on social media at Facebook: Chicken Farmers, Twitter: @ChickenFarmers, Instagram: ChickenDotCA and Pinterest: ChickenDotCA.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Chicken Farmers of Canada campaign managed by SJ Consulting. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.