Tuesday, February 8, 2011

That Fantastical Little Pasta Masquerading As "Rice"

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I love orzo pasta. It seriously is amazing, not only because of the great texture and flavor, but because it is a sneaky little guy who fools you in to thinking he is rice. You bite down into it and what-ho?! It's pasta in a rice-shaped package - fantastical!

I was in the mood for orzo when planning my menu and grocery list for this week, so I hunted down a recipe for Chicken Orzo Soup. It is really a very simple chicken soup recipe, but the orzo and fresh baby spinach really bring it up to the next level. I upped the veggie content and served it with some yummy wholegrain artisan bread I found hiding in the grocery store and will definitely be making this dinner again.

The ingredient list may look a little long, but I swear you have most of these items lurking in your pantry and fridge, don't be intimidated! It only took me about 30-40 minutes to whip this together. It probably would have taken even less time if I hadn't been distracted by watching Ina Garten's show on Food Network while I was cooking - what can I say, I love her recipes!

Chicken Orzo Soup

- 32 oz. of chicken broth (for soup)
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (to cook the orzo)
- 1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 medium-sized carrots (diced)
- 2 large celery stalks (diced)
- 1 diced white or yellow onion
- 2 crushed and diced cloves of garlic
- 2 cups water
- 1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken breasts or tenders
- 1 tbsp. dried parsley
- 1 tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups baby spinach (FRESH!)
- salt and pepper to taste


Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Once boiling, add the orzo and cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

2. While the orzo is cooking, add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium. Add in your onions and garlic, stirring occasionally until soft (about 5-8 min.). Next add in the carrots, celery and chicken. Be sure to chop the chicken into small, rustic, bite-sized pieces. Add a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper to the pot and let it cook for about 5 more minutes.

3. Stir in your 32 oz. of chicken broth, 2 cups of water, parsley and thyme. Bring the soup up to a boil, cover it and let it simmer for a good 10-15 more minutes. This will ensure the chicken is cooked all the way through and meld the flavors.

4. Uncover the pot and reduce the heat down to low. Add in the fresh spinach, a squeeze of lemon juice and the orzo. Be sure to taste the soup and add a pinch more of salt and pepper if needed!

Tah Dahhhhhh - a fabulously tasty soup full of chicken and veggies...and more importantly ORZO! This is also a pretty healthy dish, lots of protein and fiber and hardly any fat, so you can feel really good eating it. Enjoy!

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