Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup
-32 oz. (4 cups) chicken stock
-1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
-2 tablespoons butter
-3/4 cup orzo pasta
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
-1 carrot, finely chopped
-1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 cup fresh or frozen peas
-1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
-2 cups water
-1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
-2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
Place the chicken stock and chicken pieces in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the orzo and cook, stirring constantly, until toasted (about 3-5 minutes). Remove the orzo from the pot and set aside.
Add the olive oil to the pot over medium heat. Add the zucchini, carrot, pepper, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 7-8 minutes.
Return the toasted orzo to the pot. Remove the chicken from the stock and add to the pot. Skim and discard the fat from the stock, then transfer the stock to the pot, as well. Add 2 cups of water. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the orzo is just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and corn in the last minute of cooking. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Turn off the heat, stir in the cilantro and lemon peel, and serve.