Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tuscan Chicken Soup With Orzo

I remember the first soup I ever learned to make, when I was about 12 in Home Economics lessons at school.  The teacher didn't actually teach us how to make it, but let us all cook one thing that we ate at home.

Pretty much every Friday thoughout the winter months, dinner was either Macaroni Cheese or Minestrone - made from scratch by my mother, and I did love the minestrone soup, so that was the dish that I decided to cook in school.  I badgered my mum for the recipe and then got all the ingredients, turnied up in the classroom and started to cook.  And suddenly, lo-and-behold, there was soup!  I felt like an alchemist, I had combined vegetables, pasta and meat, and with the judicious application of fire, the end result was soup, and it even tasted pretty good!

And from then on, I realised I could cook (although I didn't actually cook much for another six or seven years when I went away to University)   and I loved the buzz I got from being able to do that.. It's something that hasn't ever gone away.

Which brings us, in a very round about way to today's soup.  Although I'm not making Minestrone (and I still pronounce it Mine Strone in my head...) this soup is very similar, using as it does lots of vegetables, a bit of meat and a rich tomato-y stock.  And it also uses Orzo, which I love - it's pasta that thinks it is rice!  Crazy!

If you can't get orzo, any small pasta shells will do - I was over-joyed when I first found it in a small corner shop, and immediately bought some for Mrs Soup, as she had never been able to find it in this country before, for which I won brownie points, and gained a nice ingredient for soups, stews and casseroles.

3 Chicken Thighs
1 Large Onion
3 Carrots
2 Stalks of Celery
1 Medium Potato
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tin Tomatoes
1.2l Chicken Stock
75g Orzo (Pasta Rice)
Fresh Basil
Fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper

1.  Heat some oil in your soup pan. Fry the chicken thighs until they are golden and cooked through.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.

2. Finely chop the onion and garlic.  In the same oil that you fried the chicken in, soften and brown the onions and garlic (add some more oil if there isn't enough left)

3.  Add the chopped carrot, potato and celery and let them soften over a low heat for 3-5 minutes, then add the stock, cooked chicken and tomatoes.  To this add the thyme, salt and pepper, simmer and cover, then let cook for 25 minutes.

4.  Add the orzo to the soup and let simmer for another 10 minute, until the pasta is cooked through.  Check seasoning and then serve, garnished with fresh basil.  Enjoy!

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