Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Here is another easy end of the week soup that was inspired by Damn Delicious. Chicken and pasta soup is a classic but the squeeze of lemon juice brightens the broth and gives it an unexpected flavor. The addition of pancetta adds saltiness and an additional level of complexity to the broth as well. I’ve used boneless and skinless chicken breasts but you can easily substitute chicken thighs or even leftover rotisserie chicken. If you choose to use precooked chicken, simply add it to the broth in the final few minutes of cooking and then continue cooking until the chicken is heated through.

Easy peasy on a Friday night!

LEMON CHICKEN ORZO SOUP

2 ounces pancetta, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

5 cups low sodium chicken stock

2 bay leaves

3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1 sprig rosemary

Juice of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large stockpot set over medium heat.
  • Add the pancetta and fry until crispy. Remove from the pan to drain and set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper then add the chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes; set aside.
  • Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add garlic, leek, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Whisk in the chicken stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water; bring to a boil.
  • Stir in the orzo, rosemary and chicken; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and parsley; season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Serves 6
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