Anything with the words ‘creamy’, ‘lemon’ or ‘orzo’ in, and I’m sold. So how could a soup with all three of these in, plus CHICKEN, be anything but delicious? And the best thing is, it only takes 30 minutes to make!
There are so many cool things about this soup, I’m not sure where to begin. I think what I like most about it is that while it’s a nice chunky soup with plenty of veggie goodness in it (don’t you just hate those soups that you buy from the supermarket that are all watery and have about half a veggie in them?), it’s also ‘light’ enough to throw in a Tupperware and take to work for lunch.
And of course, as I’ve already said (but I’ll say it again just so you get how much I love this soup), it’s got that triple whammy of creamy, lemon and orzo in it to make it extra yummy.
You might be wondering why I didn’t use milk to win a few more points in the ‘healthy’ department? Well, to be honest I did consider it, but I was worried about the lemon juice curdling the milk, which doesn’t happen so easily with cream.
And the thing is, there is really quite a small amount of cream in it – only a third of a cup in the whole pot, which serves at least 4, if not more.
Not that we’re worried about a little cream, of course – it’s totally natural, after all!
The other little trick I used to make this lovely and lemony (but not overwhelmingly so) was to add just 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, which is equivalent to about the juice of a small lemon, but then adding the zest of the lemon too. This way there’s no chance of any unpleasant curdling.
The orzo, or risoni – which is sort of rice-shaped pasta, in case you were wondering – is the soup version of the icing on the cake. You only need about ¾ of a cup, less if you like, to make a lovely hearty soup.
And if you can’t find orzo where you live (it’s fairly tricky to find here in the UK, actually!), giant couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous) would work instead, or any small pasta shape really.
If you want to go completely wild, why not sub the orzo for gnocchi, or tortellini? Both of these cook quickly, so you could just add them in at the appropriate moment just before the soup’s finished cooking.
This is definitely going to be a regular in our soup rotation. It’s a perfect winter warmer for this time of year, exciting and filling enough to cheer you up on a dreary mid-winter day, but not so heavy that you don’t have room for dessert! 😉
Serves: 4 (at least)
- 1 pound / 500 grams chicken thighs or breast, chopped into small pieces and rolled in about 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 ½ teaspoons mixed Italian herbs (or ½ teaspoon each oregano, thyme, basil)
- 2 bay leaves and 1 parmesan rind (both optional)
- 7 cups / 1.6 litres chicken stock
- ¾ cup / 150 grams orzo (or other small pasta)*
- ⅓ cup / 80ml cream
- 2 large handfuls chopped spinach
- the zest and juice of 1 small lemon (equal to about 3 tablespoons juice)
- salt and pepper
- Pan fry the chicken pieces in a large saucepan or heavy-bottomed casserole dish in a large drizzle of oil for a few minutes until all the pieces have turned white. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add a little more oil to the pan and saute the onion, carrots, and celery together for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the garlic and herbs to the pan and stir for a few seconds, then add the bay leaves and parmesan rind (if using), stock, and orzo. Add the chicken back into the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the orzo is cooked.
- Finally, add the cream, spinach, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and serve!
This soup is on the chunky side, but feel free to add a bit more water at the end if you think you’d prefer a thinner soup (obviously this will also make it go a bit further!).
Why not save this to your Healthy Food or Easy Meals Pinterest board for later? 🙂
Would you like to follow me on Pinterest, too? I’m always pinning tasty food!