First, a confession: I am not a lover of soup.
Clam chowder, yes. A good thick chili, absolutely. But anything along the lines of broth with stuff in it? Unh uh, no way, thanks and buh-bye. I have no idea why – although I suspect the lack of soup during my childhood (other than canned chicken soup when I was sick, uuuuugggghh) started me down this path. It’s a texture thing, really . . . I just don’t want to drink my entree.
So when my favorite soup of the five made at a recent Soup Party happened to be the Lemony Chicken Orzo – the only broth based soup of the bunch – I was downright shocked. Clearly, my 6.5 month old fetus has taken over my body, including my taste buds. (And on that note, the baby is out to get me, as I spent all day craving jelly beans, frosting, and fudge. All three. At once.)
But, let me back up. Last November, when I broke the big news of both my pregnancy and our sudden and impending move to a bigger, newer house, a group of friends I hadn’t seen in ages immediately booked a date for a winter harvest/soup party – to be held at the new pad, of course! What with morning sickness and over-the-top work hours, the location was about all I could manage to contribute anyway.
So a couple of weeks ago on a surprisingly dry and sunny Sunday, they all arrived with pots and pans and produce and utensils and proceeded to whip up an impressive amount of super delicious soups. We snacked and chatted and I watched while they all chopped and stirred . . . and sipped wine and beer (water for me, sigh).
In just three short hours, we were dishing up containers of the soups (picture, top) for everyone to take home. The hubster was overjoyed – not only does he love soup, but it meant three days off of cooking for him. All of the soups were delicious, and each was very different, even the two corn chowders. But the orzo soup just knocked me over – it was light, but filling from the chicken and orzo pasta, hearty from the spinach, and with the bright kick of Meyer lemon in the broth.
And it just so happens that my lovely friend Susan left a copy of the recipe for me, which I’m now passing on to you.
Along with a picture of my other contribution to the gathering – a big cake plate filled with my favorite cookies in the world, from Wildflour Cookie Company. I could lick my computer screen right now, just looking at them. But, you know, make the soup! It’s really good too.
Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup
The source for this recipe wasn’t on the copy I got, but a quick internet search found a nearly identical recipe on the Pacific Natural Foods web page.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- 32 ounces chicken both (Pacific Natural Foods brand)
- 2/3 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (preferably Meyer lemon)
- 3 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sear chicken until lightly browned. Set aside in a bowl until needed. Reduce heat to medium and add onions and garlic. Cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add coriander and cinnamon and cook another minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo. Cook until pasta is tender, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved chicken (including any accumulated juices). Bring to a boil and cook one minute. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with parmesan cheese.