Monday, January 25, 2010

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

I recently started subscribing to Rachel Ray Everyday magazine. Now, I'm not always a huge Rachel Ray fan. Some of her 30-minute stuff on TV just doesn't look appealing (and who could really make it in 30 minutes, anyway?). However, her magazine always has TONS of recipes & I always find several that I'd like to try. The first recipe from the February edition that I opted to make was the Toasted Chicken Orzo Pasta.

I made this recipe for The Hubs & I last week and it was a good base, but could stand to have a little more flavor. Below is the original recipe. The parts in parenthesis & italics are what I would add next time to give it a little more flavor.


* One 32-ounce container chicken stock (+ 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules)
* 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 (make that a large zucchini or 2 small)
* 1 carrot, finely chopped (2 carrots)
* 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (1 whole large bell pepper)
* 2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (3 cloves garlic)
* Salt and pepper
* 1 cup frozen peas (could sub green beans)
* 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (could exchange for cilantro - it has more flavor)
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (reduce to 1 tsp - too lemony)
* Could also add: 1 cup frozen corn and/or chopped celery


1. In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock and chicken to a simmer. Lower the heat and poach the chicken for 12 minutes.

2. 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.

3. Add the EVOO 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.

4. 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.

Here is how mine turned out:

My Tid-Bits:

* Mine looks a little less colorful because I used green bell pepper instead of red. Green are less than 1/2 the price of red!

* The toasted orzo is very tasty! However, if you don't have orzo, you could sub in another small pasta. It will just change the flavor a bit. Cook that pasta according to directions on box, leaving the pasta a bit more firm than usual. Add to soup when you add the chicken.

* The recipe, in it's original form, makes about 6 servings & has 350 calories per serving.

* Overall Review: This recipe is very easy to make & doesn't require a lot of time. With the changes I mentioned above, I would make this recipe again.

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