Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Orzo Chicken Soup

This dish is a hybrid between congee and a good ole chicken noodle soup.  This recipe came about because I wanted to have congee but I did not have much time to cook it with rice.  At the same time I have some orzo in the pantry which I thought would substitute well, or at least give the good old chicken soup a new spin. 

What perfect timing this is in these days when colds and coughs are frequent as brought about by the ever confusing weather.  And what's a better cold remedy than chicken soup?  I tell you this soup brings instant relief!  Add the fact that it does not take much effort to make.  

Who would want to make something complicated on days when you are under the weather? 

The dish is simple as long as you have a few pieces of chicken, carrot, celery and onion.  Then use whatever spices you have in your pantry to kick it up a notch.  I love adding turmeric (and sometimes curry powder) to my soups lately.  Give turmeric a try, it gives nice color and good flavor.   Plus it's good for you.  It has healing powers you know.

Orzo Chicken Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb chicken pieces with bones
1.5 quart chicken broth
2 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch crosswise
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
½ teaspoons Turmeric
¼ teaspoons black  Pepper
¼ teaspoons Ground Thyme
1 teaspoons Parsley Flakes
1 bay leaf
Chicken base (optional)
16 ounces, weight orzo

Rinse chicken and remove the skins.  Place chicken in colander to remove excess water.
Heat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and soon as it starts to smoke, add the chicken legs.  Increase the heat to high and let chicken cook until no loner pink on the outside, about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes making sure the meat does not stick to the pan. There should be very little liquid in it, you are basically cooking the chicken in its own liquid.
Add salt & pepper, and garlic.  Cook for one minute then add onion, celery and carrots.  Cook further until the the vegetables start to 'sweat', about 5 minutes.
Add the broth to the pan, adding water if it is not enough to cover all of the meat.  Add the turmeric, thyme, bay leaf, black pepper and parsley.  Add some chicken base if you want a more intense chicken flavor but it really should not need it.  
Bring it to a boil then lower the heat.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken in tender.
Add orzo and boil again until orzo is tender and done.
Serve topped with fresh cilantro or green onions.

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