This soup is light and comforting. It’s loaded with the bold flavor of Parmesan and fresh taste of lemon that will have you ready for Spring.
Over the weekend I did some traveling in the South (Alabama and Tennessee to be exact) and I have to say, if I lived there I would certainly weigh 10x more than I do now. Not only did I eat a generous helping of both fried food and comfort food, but drank more sweet tea than I care to admit. Why do I love it so much? My hips aren’t really a fan though.
Traveling is usually one of those things that has me crushing on healthy food when I get home. I crave veggies and lighter fare – and generally just want things that aren’t heavy or fried. Which brings me to this soup.
Orzo is one of those things we just don’t eat very often in our house. I normally have some laying around, but rarely have inspiration of what to make with it – which needs to change stat because it’s not only yummy but adorable too. I was going to make some boring old chicken soup, but saw the orzo and knew I had to use it.
Since it’s Italian, pairing it with cheese was a no brainer – and in this case, we simmer a Parmesan rind in the broth. Sounds crazy, right? Trust me, its phenomenal. The cheese melts away and absorbs into the soup, when it’s done simmering you just fish out what’s left of the rind.
We finish the soup off with a little lemon to give it some brightness. That little bit of lemon just transports you to Spring weather and wishing it wasn’t so cold outside.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- ¾ cup chopped celery
- 1 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Parmesan rind (about 3”x 1” in size)
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 12 oz)
- 8 oz Orzo pasta
- Salt & pepper
- Juice from ½ a lemon, plus lemon wedges to garnish
- 1 Tbsp fresh minced parsley, plus more to garnish
- Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
- In a large stock pot oil over medium heat. Stir in onions, carrots, celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add in cornstarch. Cook mixture until light golden brown.
- Pour chicken stock into the pot, add in bay leaf and Parmesan rind and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and add in chicken breasts, cooking until chicken is fully cooked (or reaches 165°), about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from pot, let cool slightly and shred. Remove bay leaf and remaining bits of Parmesan ring and discard.
- Place shredded chicken back into the pot and add in orzo. Let soup simmer for 8-10 minutes or until orzo is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in lemon juice and minced parsley.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls, top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and minced parsley. If desired, serve with an additional lemon wedge to squeeze into soup.