Monday, November 11

Fall Weather & Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

Something about me.... I love soup. I counted and have 14 soups, stews, and chili recipes on my blog (some are listed below for further reference). Soup makes me feel content and comforted. I grew up in a cold climate near Seattle, and every fall something in me just wants hot, nourishing soup. 

my fav way to eat soup: in a large coffee cup (I am from seattle) with really good whole grain bread and cheese

I made this soup about a month ago. I was really excited to try it orzo for the first time. I did have an awesome visitor from the great northwest (my mom) whom I hadn't seen in WAY too long, and with whom I was happy to share some sun. So without further ado...heres your new tasty chicken soup recipe perfect for a colder November day (not that we are having one here in Arizona - but I do understand other people are experiencing real seasons). 

This toasted orzo soup is from a Rachael Ray magazine, Feb 2010 issue. Isn't orzo a fun word to say? I heart trying new foods. My husband really didn't care for the texture of the orzo itself but he liked the rest of it. I thought it was wonderful - but it was the first time either one of had eaten this specific kind of pasta before. Infact my son tried to convince me that it was rice because he didn't believe it was "noodles" his word for pasta. The hardest part about this dish is making all the veggie cuts small into a fine dice. If you are able to pull that off, this veggie laden, colorful delight looks like confetti. The best part of the dish is that all you are doing is chopping + dropping into a large simmering pot. 

When should you make it? Now. Of course. No really. Soup is one of those perfect meals to do on a weekend, keep on low while people come in, and out busy with fall activities. You can skip the first part of the recipe by using up leftover chicken from a previous meal or a rotisserie chicken from the store. Soup also reheats beautifully into a make ahead meal for later in the week. Serve it with a fresh green salad, crackers,or some rolls. 

Chicken Soup
prep + cook time = 35-45 minutes
Serves 4-6 depending on your appetites

4 cups (one 32 oz container) of chicken stock/broth homemade or store bought
1 pound of chicken, boneless, breast pieces cut into bite sized pieces (this was 1 1/2 breasts for me)
2 Tbs unsalted organic butter
3/4 cup orzo pasta
2 Tbs olive oil
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 dried bay leaves
1 small sprig of thyme & rosemary each (tied together if you can)
1 small to medium zucchini, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 cups of frozen peas, keep frozen until the end
3 cups of water
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp grated lemon peel
salt & pepper 

1. In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock and the chicken to a simmer. Once the stock starts to boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and poach the chicken for 12 minutes. 

2. In a large soup pot or dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat. Toast the orzo in the melted butter until its golden color - approx 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it. As soon as it is toasted use a spoon to move it aside on a plate or bowl. See the picture below.

3. While the pasta is toasting - chop all your veggies. 

4. Add the olive oil to the dutch oven and all the veggies. Season the veggies with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to help them to start softening. Stir occasionally for 7-8 minutes until veggies are tender crisp. 

5. Build the soup. Return the orzo to the dutch oven. Add in the chicken pieces from the stock with a slotted spoon. Skim off any extra fat that may be floating at the top of the medium pot of stock, and then add in all of the liquid. Add in the water, bay, and fresh herb bundle. 

6. Bring the soup to a boil and let it cook for approx 5 -6 minutes until orzo is done. In the last minute of cooking add in the frozen peas. 

7. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh parsley and lemon peel. Remove the bay. Taste & adjust any seasonings. 

8. If using as a make ahead meal, cool completely. Cover & refrigerate. I am not sure it makes a difference to separate the pasta from the soup if you are reheating it. If if bothers you go ahead and keep the orzo separate until the night you are going to serve it. I did notice (when I didn't separate it) the pasta does plump up in size more the next day but it doesn't change the flavor or texture. 

Easy Yummy Healthy Chicken Soup
Enjoy fall weather 

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