Lemon Chicken Soup & A Premature Christmas Playlist

Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?" — Judith Martin

November is fierce this week! Thin, bright sunlight is sparkling without giving off warmth. The wind cuts. We can finally wear our warm clothes, yet even the thickest sweaters are insufficient. Gosh, I love it.

I like when November cleans house from the rest of the year. Every cobweb is blown away, every pile of old thoughts, like leaves, swept into corners and forgotten in preparation for the Grand Event of the holidays. This year I've given up all pretense of waiting for Christmas music till after Thanksgiving. Waiting has ceased to appeal to me. After all, the rest of the Christmas-celebrating world begins their fun in early November, and 2020 is not the year that I will refuse myself added cheer. In addition, this is the last Christmas I am going to spend as an unmarried woman. Andrew and I agreed to make the most of our final "normal" Christmases with our individual families and enjoy them in a top-level way. This means we get to max out enjoyment of long-held traditions before we form our own way of celebrating Christmas together. Let the Christmas-ing commence, I say! 

Many of my favorite artists have released Christmas albums fresh off the recording desk, so I thought I'd put together a playlist of some of my favorite modern Christmas songs. Don't come at me about the classics. I will forever play Sinatra, Crosby, Burl Ives, and the Carpenters for as long as I live and nobody will ever want you for Christmas the way Mariah Carey wants you for Christmas. But I do love a good swig of new Christmas music. It's fun, especially if you (like I), have dipped into the Christmas music game early! Here's a playlist I built to get you started. And can we have a little chat about the fact that Lady A's Christmas album DISAPPEARED for weeks from every streaming platform and panicked me, only to be re-released as a deluxe version? Merry Christmas to us.


 Cold weather is the advent of Soup Season and if I haven't thoroughly convinced you to become a soup person, let me just say: I won't stop trying. Soup is, like, the only comfort food that is legitimately healthy for one to eat lots of. It's warm, it's tasty, it's nourishing, and it doesn't make you feel like you need a New Year's resolution, know what I mean? Also, soup is second only to fried rice in the family of what I call "garbage can" meals. Throw nearly anything into a pot of lovely broth and you've got a soup. Soup doesn't need a recipe; soup is a mood. I want to do a breakdown of making a basic chicken stock in a future post. To me, there is nothing more magical than throwing bones from a rotisserie chicken into a pot with a roughly chopped onion, vegetable scraps, some garlic, and covering it with water to emerge several hours later as something incredibly life-giving. Like, you just made medicine out of trash. It's a miracle! But whether you make your own broth/stock or buy it in a carton, soup is probably a grand total of 40 minutes into your future. I thought I'd share a skeletal recipe for my favorite quick, weeknight soup to get you well on your way to soup season yourselves.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Grains & Greens

serves 6, comfortably

1 rotisserie chicken, picked apart and chopped into small pieces

4 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 quarts chicken stock

2 lemons, zested and juiced

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stripped off ribs and chopped (or other greens, such as baby spinach)

1 1/2 cups cooked grain of choice (farro, freekah, rice, quinoa, etc.)

4 oz. feta, crumbled (optional)

fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

  1. In the bottom of a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, then saute garlic, onions, and carrot till tender. Add chicken stock, red pepper flakes, and black pepper and bring to a simmer.
  2. When simmering, add in rotisserie chicken and lemon juice and zest. Allow flavors to melt together, then taste for seasoning. Add salt to taste. I like to let this stage simmer together for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add chopped greens and grains and stir well. If more liquid is needed, feel free to add a bit of water as desired, then taste for seasoning again. When ready to serve, crumble feta into the soup (or onto individual servings of soup) and top with chopped parsley.

I hope you enjoy this soup! It's super flexible with ingredients that can be swapped out one for another without much drama. If you want to add a chopped potato, you do that. If you want to keep it grain free, you're not gonna notice the missing quinoa. If you want to forgo grain and add pasta instead, that's your choice. Soup is forgiving, because soup is almost perfect. Cheap, adaptable, delicious. Soup's just out here doing the most. What a guy.

(Oh yeah....Um...Andrew and I are buying a house. We are not grown up enough for this, are we?)


  1. Soup season is the best season! Thanks for sharing.

  2. OMG SOUP SEASON! So good to see a blog post from you and of course you know I LOVE your recipes.