“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
Today we continue on with our pasta quest! One of the reasons I love recipe contest weeks is that they challenge me to put up more recipes than I normally would in a week. Since Sweet Cayenne is still pretty new, it’s great to have a reason to expand the recipe archive so that you have more to inspire and choose from – I hope you are enjoying pasta week!
So let’s do a little recap: thus far we’ve made 2 dishes featuring whole wheat penne and kale:
Both recipes are based on the hearty goodness of whole grain pasta – we get protein, fiber, B vitamins, and a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates. Great! Today we’re gonna move on to soup – we can totally make satisfying meal out of soup by adding – you guessed it – pasta! We’re gonna get a little cray cray up in here and use a less common pasta shape: orzo. It looks like long grain rice, but it’s actually a noodle. My favorite uses for orzo are adding it to Chicken Noodle and Minestrone soups, and tossing it with marinated antipasto-style veggies and a little bit of flaked salmon or prosciutto for a cool summertime salad.
Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup is one my all-time favorites. In fact, if I were to call it by any other name, I’d name it after one of my favorite movies: Singin’ in the Rain. We all can probably agree that Chicken Noodle Soup is the ultimate comfort on a rainy day or for when you’re under the weather. Panera’s version was one of my Poppy’s most requested dinners during his last days for us, and I can’t help but think it was comforting to him. But let’s just talk about taking this American favorite to the next level with lemon. Yes, this soup has an unmistakably lemony flavor. In my opinion, that’s what makes it sing! You may feel down and out or under the weather when you start eating it, but with it’s bright cheery flavor, warmth, and hearty dose of chicken, noodles, veggies, and herbs, your taste buds will sing and you’ll be feeling better in no time!
This soup’s flavors only get better with time, and the notes of freshness are perfect to enjoy on a rainy day or in the dead of winter when you are eagerly anticipating springtime. I hope you try it and make extra for the freezer!
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced into 1'' cubes
- 2 medium leeks washed and chopped (only use white and light green part)
- 3 medium carrots washed, peeled, and diced into 1/4'' pieces
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup white wine or water
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock recommend Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken stock
- 1/2 cup whole wheat orzo pasta
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Shaved Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Lightly season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add to the heated pot, and saute for about 3 minutes.
Add carrots and leeks to chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and herbs, stir to combine. Add Dijon mustard, stir to combine. Add wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add all of the chicken stock and stir to incorporate.
Increase heat to high to bring mixture to a boil. Add the orzo and reduce heat to medium-low to slowly boil (a little stronger than a simmer but not a full rolling boil) for 10-12 minutes until orzo is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
Turn off heat and add lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with Parmesan shavings on top. Leftover soup freezes well or will keep in your fridge for up to 4 days.
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