Part I demystified the process of making homemade stock, which may have led you to think, what now? Oh, the possibilities…To make things simple, I ended up cooking Vegetable Orzo Soup, my spin-off of chicken noodle soup. It may seem way vanilla to you, but I have always craved chicken noodle soup of some sort ever since I was young.
Throughout my entire life, my mom made all of her soups from scratch (as scratch as it could be without picking the ingredients from a farm or garden herself). The broth, everything. Now that I live in Chicago, I get large doses of mom’s Chinese soups when I visit home. You may ask, what exactly is Chinese soup (tong)? It’s essentially any southern Chinese family’s pride and joy in the kitchen because of its quality and nutrition. I will post the Chinese soups I know how to make in future posts, but they range anywhere from lotus root with peanuts and shitake mushrooms, winter melon, white fungus, ‘four-flavor’ soup, new year’s soup, and much more. There were so many kinds of soups in the household that they just kept rotating, and I never really had soups from other cuisines unless it was at a restaurant or a friend’s house. Therefore, I always craved something as simple as chicken noodle soup, the traditional staple of many American households. That, along with minestrone, beef barley, clam chowder, cream of [fill in the blank], etc.
Now that I do live away from home, I get to explore the types of soups that had been absent in my life! It’s a great balance, really, knowing that I will have homemade Chinese soup when I visit, and soup from the other continents when I am away.
Moving back to Vegetable Orzo Soup – why did I pick orzo instead of thick egg noodles? Simply because I had it on hand. Potatoes? Cannelini beans? The ingredient choices were chosen because I had these things in the house when I made soup. You can pick a variety of vegetables and starch for this soup to work. Watching carbohydrates? Feel free to skip on the noodles and/or spuds. I just love them because they make the soup thicker and more filling (and you get the fiber benefits, too). No matter how you dice it, the soup is very soothing for a cold winter day.
Vegetable Orzo Soup Recipe
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery with leafy tops, diced
- 1 large potato (Russet or Yukon Gold), peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 quart turkey stock (or store-bought chicken or vegetable stock if you must!)
- 1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup uncooked orzo
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Medium stock pot
- Chef knife and cutting board
- Measuring cups
- Heat olive oil in stock pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and potatoes; lightly season with salt and pepper. Saute until softened, about 5-8 minutes.
- Pour in turkey stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Add uncooked orzo and cannellini beans; simmer until vegetables are tender and orzo is cooked and plump, about 15-20 minutes. Stir every few minutes so that orzo does not stick to the pot.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley.
- Other vegetables that work are zucchini, onions, corn, peas, green beans, butternut squash, mushrooms, tomatoes (fresh or canned), hominy, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pearl barley
- Instead of orzo or potatoes, other starches that work are wild rice, egg noodles, macaroni elbows, other small pastas
- During Step 1, herbs can be added when seasoning with salt and pepper, such as fresh or dry thyme, sage, Herbes de Provence, poultry seasoning, etc.
- Shredded or diced turkey/chicken meat can be added in Step 2 along with the orzo and beans (I just did not bring any home from Thanksgiving)