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Chicken & Orzo Soup

Chicken & Orzo Soup
Because this simple variation on chicken-noodle soup includes so few ingredients, it is important to use the best chicken broth or stock you can find. Look for high-quality broth in the freezer section of gourmet groceries and well-stocked supermarkets. You can cook the chicken at home or purchase a rotisserie chicken from a supermarket or delicatessen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh marjoram
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup orzo, pastina or other small pasta shape
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Sauté the vegetables
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and marjoram and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes more. Add the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

Cook the pasta
Add the pasta to the simmering soup and cook until the pasta is al dente, 3 to 4 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Add the spinach and chicken and cook, stirring, until the spinach has wilted and the chicken is warmed through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle with some of the cheese. Serve immediately and pass the remaining cheese at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Weeknight, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2006).