Sometimes, like when you are horribly congested for two weeks, and must take steroids to reduce the swelling and your throat hurts and you are sneezy and blowing your nose for forever…sometimes you just really want some nice comforting soup. Like chicken soup! And sometimes, you want some chicken soup that is a tad fancier and more interesting than regular kind. In case you haven’t figured it out, both these cases are referring to me! I am actually FINALLY feeling better, which is just lovely, but I had been rather miserable for awhile there. I made this soup on Sunday night and it really hit the spot. I also think it really helped me finish out being horribly sick, so I will consider it my super special cold ending soup as well as just plain delicious. It’s a Rachel Ray recipe, and the orzo is nice with all the veggies, but really its the lemon that gives it just a touch of extra fancy. It’s not too lemony, it’s just a surprising burst of flavor. Delicious!
I just had to post the above picture so everyone can drool and be envious of my favorite cast iron Martha Stewart pot. It’s ice blue! It matches my mixer! It would be more awesome if it were Le Creuset, but I’m not made of money you know!
Anyway, back to the soup!
Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup:
32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken stock
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces or tenders
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup orzo pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 small zucchini, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock and chicken to a simmer. Lower the heat and poach the chicken for 12 minutes.
Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the orzo and cook, stirring, until deeply toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl
Add the oil, 2 turns of the pan, to the dutch oven. Add the zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, shallots and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Return the orzo to the pot.
Remove the chicken from the stock. Skim and discard the fat from the stock; transfer the stock to the dutch oven. Chop, dice or shred the chicken and add to the soup with 2 cups water. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the orzo is just tender, 5 minutes. Add the peas during the last minute of cooking. Turn off the heat; stir in the parsley and lemon peel. Serve immediately.