Chicken-Orzo Soup With Spinach

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As the TV weather man works us up into yet another frenzy about the cold temperatures, I offer you this soup to warm you to the core and to fill you up without any guilt.  It's a variation on the classic chicken noodle that is just amazing.  While we both enjoyed the soup, I ate on it all week and loved it. 

The soup is made with orzo, a short pasta that looks like rice.  If you don't have orzo, sub in another noodle or even rice (rice would have a longer cooking time).  The resulting soup is just so good.  I want some now.  

Chicken-Orzo Soup With Spinach
inspired by this soup

serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 quarts chicken stock
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3/4 cup orzo pasta
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 cup (or more, depending on your preference) cubed or shredded cooked chicken
4 cups (1- 5 oz clamshell) loosely-packed spinach, rough chopped
salt and black pepper

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes, until soft. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, rosemary and stir to combine. Bring soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Season soup with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the chicken and pasta* and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  

Stir in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is bright green and wilted. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

*see notes

  • I used 1 quart homemade turkey stock from a smoked turkey we ate at Thanksgiving dinner and 1 quart store bought chicken stock.  You can use chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock here.  
  • I halved the orzo amount from the original recipe, and still felt like there was a lot in the pot.  Feel free to adjust based on how thick you like your soup.
  • On the orzo (or any other soup with pasta)- pasta has the tendency to swell and become mushy in soups, especially when it comes to leftovers.  You can follow the directions above and your pasta will likely have a similar result.  It doesn't usually bother me in these thinner, shorter pastas.  If, however, you don't like how pastas turn out in soups, cook the pasta separately to desired doneness and then add it to individual bowls of soup.  
  • I used a rotisserie chicken for this recipe.  My local store's rotisserie chickens are smaller but less fatty, and it takes about half the chicken to get the amount I want.
  • I didn't use a slow cooker, but I imagine you could warm everything together, maybe not adding the chicken and spinach until the last 30 minutes to hour of cooking.

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