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I have a sick toddler at home right now, so this weekend I took a stab at creating my own version of chicken noodle soup. I used whole-wheat orzo pasta for easy scooping (I hate it when the noodles are so long they fall off of the spoon), and added several vegetables I had in the fridge, including a big bunch of Greenling arugula – an unusual choice, but it blended right in, and it never hurts to work in extra veggies.

I like a high stuff-to-broth ratio in my soup, so this one is pretty thick. Feel free to add more liquid if you like your soup more brothy.

Chicken-Orzo Soup

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (about half a large onion)
1 carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch arugula leaves, chopped
1 bunch mustard greens, stems removed, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (or 2-3 smaller sweet peppers, like banana)
1 tsp dried sage
1 cup whole-wheat orzo
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium-high heat in large Dutch oven. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for several minutes, until the pieces start to brown. Add veggies and sage and cook another 10 minutes or so, until the veggies start to tenderize.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, return to a boil, and cook 8-10 minutes, until orzo is tender.

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I love orzo salads for many reasons. For one, they are easy to make — just cook the pasta, chop the ingredients, mix, and you are done. They taste good warm, cold, or at room temperature. Also the leftovers keep well for a day or two. This one combines a mix of veggies with whole-wheat orzo and a white wine vinaigrette, and it’s highly customizable so you can cater to the likes/dislikes of your family.

Orzo Salad with Chicken and Veggies

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
5 oz cooked chopped chicken (rotisserie is good, or some of those frozen, pre-cooked chicken breast strips)
1 chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped spring onion (or red onion)
1/2 cup chopped chard
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1.5 tbsp white wine or champagne vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil

Cook orzo in boiling, salted water until tender, 8-10 minutes.  Combine all ingredients through basil and stir well. Add salt, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil, and toss until well combined.

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