Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Italian Chicken Orzo Soup

What a great way to start November off! Carol is back as  guest poster with a delicious soup to keep us warm. I know I'll be making it soon. 

Many thanks Carol for sharing the recipe and her hubby Bob for the fantastic photo!

Well, it was bound to happen. Summer has left the building here in MA....enter fall and VERY cool temperatures. I won't turn the heat on until at least November 1st, so that means some tummy-warming food is hitting the table.

One of our favorite meals, especially during the fall and winter, is soup.  For lunch or for dinner, nothing beats homemade soup in a mug or bowl. Bob and I love all kinds, and I'm always on the hunt for new recipes for it to try.

I've decided to make an attempt at getting at least one batch of soup done every week so both of us can have it at lunch time. Bob has told me that some days he meanders down to the cafeteria at work to see what the soups of the day are and buys a cup to go with what he's brought for lunch from home.  Making it myself will save money, and I know what all's going in the pot.

I had a bunch of vegetables to use before grocery shopping along with some of the last tomatoes from our garden (they're ripening VERY slowly in a big box with a couple bananas added).  Some of those tomatoes, along with a few carrots, some celery, onion, garlic and fresh spinach, gave me the base for something good in my soup pot.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest, went and looked at Ali's blog (which I LOVE) and it was just what I was looking for. Her photos made me want a big bowl of her soup RIGHT NOW.

Bob is one of those "Where's-the-meat?" kind of guys when I try to sneak by a vegetable-only soup. I had a small package of chicken defrosted-just the right amount for the soup. Had I had leftover chicken in the refrigerator, I would have diced or shredded that and used it rather than cooking the chicken. 

I picked through and found the tomatoes that were REALLY ripe and needed to be used now. I peeled, seeded and diced them for the soup. Had I not had those, I would have grabbed a 14 1/2 ounce can of diced tomatoes and used them, juice and all.

I confess-I don't usually measure vegetables when I make soup. I did this time to give you all an idea of about how much to use if you decide to try this, but really...eyeball the amounts and use what you have on hand.  You can't go wrong. Too many vegetables?  Add more broth and/or tomatoes.  Honestly, you can't mess it up....and by all means, switch up the vegetables and use what YOU like.  If I'd had a zucchini in the crisper drawer, I would have quartered and sliced it, then added that to the vegetables when I sautéed them....I think that would have been a nice addition.

Once the vegetables and chicken are prepped, this goes together VERY quickly.

I had baby spinach so that's what I added here-regular spinach would work just fine too. A little chopped fresh parsley and my pot of soup was complete.

Oh my goodness, is this ever delicious.  Hearty, loaded with vegetables, chicken and just enough pasta.  A sprinkling of Pecorino Romano over top added one more tasty layer of flavor. This would also be great with slices of browned Italian sausage instead of chicken....or it would be wonderful the way Ali made it with just vegetables.

This makes a BIG pot of soup that we enjoyed for dinner on the first night and lunches the rest of the week.  If the orzo drinks up a lot of the brothas it sits in the refrigerator, I always have extra broth in the refrigerator to add when I reheat it. We enjoyed each and every bite.

Thanks so much, Ali for inspiring me with your fanstastic soup recipe. I know this will be made a lot during these upcoming cold winter months.  It's a comforting warm hug in a bowl.

Thank you, Linda for having me over....help yourself to a bowl of soup!


(Source: inspired by a recipe from Ali @ Gimme Some Oven-her original recipe is found HERE)

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed (about 3 cups)*
1 1/3 c. diced onion
1 1/4 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced celery
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 c. chicken stock
3/4 c. orzo pasta
2 1/2 c. peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomatoes OR 1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
4 c. loosely packed baby spinach OR regular spinach
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano OR Parmesan cheese for topping

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven.

In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, pepper and paprika.  Stir to blend the spices well. Sprinkle the chicken cubes with the spice mixture and toss to coat all the pieces. Add the cubed chicken to the pan and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is lightly browned on all sides, 5-7 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan to a bowl and set it aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil to the same pan that you cooked the chicken in.  Add the onions, carrots and celery.  Sauté the vegetables for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

Pour in the chicken stock, the diced tomatoes with their juice, orzo, oregano, basil and the cooked chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is al dente and the vegetables and chicken are cooked through.

Add the spinach, then cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Taste and season the soup with kosher salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in the chopped fresh parsley.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Top each serving with freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese. 6-8 servings.

*NOTE: 3 cups of leftover cooked and cubed or shredded chicken can be substituted for the chicken breasts or thighs.  Add it to the pot when you add the tomatoes, pasta and spices.


  1. My my my. That is one beautiful bowl of deliciousness, I can even get Randall to eat this. I love spinach & soup is the only way I can get him to eat it. Thanks Carol & Linda & Ali!

  2. After running around all morning, I finally got to sit down and relax. Boy did this blog post make me relaxed. I can just imagine sitting down with a big bowl of this soup and feel the stress drain away. Carol, I loved your entry for today. The picture of the soup makes me want to grab a spoon and dig in. I am not a big fan of most soups, but this one with the tomatoes and the orzo is just my style. I would use chicken since I don't care for sausage. I really enjoyed reading your story, it is just what I needed to relax. Thanks for the great recipe, and for your company. Hope to see more of you on here soon.

  3. Oh my gosh this looks so good. I love soups and this one I will try. Hugs

  4. Lovely looking soup, Carol! We love soup anytime of the year. I definitely will be making this one. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Thank you Linda, Cyndy, Myra, Dottiemaye and Angela....I hope you all enjoy this one if you give it a try. I wish I could have filled the tureen, set out bowls and had you all over for lunch. Wouldn't we have had some fun? :)

  6. Wow that soup bowl is packed full of goodness. I was just commenting on another blog that I've never been much of a soup person until very recently. This looks good! Thank you for sharing.

  7. beautiful combination - love a warming chicken soup - and the addition of orzo is lovely. Will try that out soon. Popping over from Friendship Friday - and saying bonjour from France. You can say hello at https://www.facebook.com/DeToutCoeurLimousin too - look forward to chatting with you soon :-)

    1. Carol is a wonderful cook and I am so happy when she shares recipes on my blog!

  8. Your Italian Orzo Soup sound delicious. Maybe be a good recipe for tomorrow night as the first snow arrives.
    Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  9. These are adorable. Thanks for sharing your fabulous recipes at Foodie Fridays. Hope to see you again this week.