Test Kitchen: Quick Chicken Soup with Orzo

Chilly weather screams for soup.

This Quick Chicken Soup with Orzo is just all around easy to make and comforting. Serve with some nice crusty bread, perhaps a side salad and dinner is served.

Most soups take minimal effort and can be ready in a jiffy. Although the longer the simmer, the more the flavors concentrate.

With this recipe all you need on hand is shredded leftover chicken, broth, some small-shaped pasta and just about any vegetable.

You can use any broth, but opt for the low-sodium variety. The Free Press Test Kitchen’s broth favorite is the low-sodium variety of Better Than Bouillon chicken base. It has a terrific rich flavor. And one jar makes about 38 cups of broth, so it’s cost-effective. Once opened, refrigerate the bouillon base and use it by the expiration date on the lid.

We used orzo, a rice-shaped pasta in the soup. Because it’s small, orzo cooks quickly. But any small-shaped pasta such as ditalini or even pearl couscous can be used.

Quick Chicken Soup with Orzo

Makes: 12 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

This is the ultimate feel-good soup. Use any variety of broth, but we used chicken broth made with low-sodium Better Than Bouillon chicken base. It has a rich flavor and is ideal for this soup.

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced

3 cups carrots, thinly sliced

8 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

1 cup uncooked orzo or small pasta such as ditalini

2 cups frozen cut green beans or 1 cup frozen peas

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, optional

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Stir until evenly coated with oil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft; about 15 minutes.

Watch carefully so the vegetables don’t burn. Add some water or broth if the pan gets too dry.

Add the chicken broth and shredded chicken. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes over medium heat.

Add the orzo, cover and cook about 6 minutes or until orzo is al dente. Add the green beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using, stir in the parsley and serve.

From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis per 1 cup.

150 calories (21 percent from fat), 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 14 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 206 mg sodium, 30 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber.