I wanted to post about this soup I made last week because we're heading into January, and I think we could all use something light, yet satifsying, right about now. I feel so weighed down by decadence after all those Christmas treats I've been inhaling this December. Not that there is anything wrong with holiday decadence! But going into the long winter months ahead, I feel like you can never have too many new soup recipes under your belt.
I adapted this one from a Rachael Ray recipe for stoup. That is her silly, made-up word for a soup that is almost as thick as a stew. Since I do not believe in calling soups or stews stoups, I chose to rename my version based on the changes I made to the original. Instead of using a combination of Mini Meatballs and Gnocchi (thereby making Rachael's a double dumpling stoup), I chose to go with mini meatballs and orzo, a pasta I absolutely love in soups. For some reason, I am not a huge fan of rice in soup, but I love noodles in there, so I feel like the small, long-ish shape of orzo is a good compromise.
The mini meatballs are made of ground chicken, and they have just enough Italian seasoning and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to make them super flavorful and creamy. That creaminess permeates the broth of the soup, making it feel richer and luxurious without adding a ton of extra calories. It's delicious and healthy; a perfect winter meal!
Mini Chicken Meatball and Orzo Soup
adapted from Rachael Ray
makes 6-8 servings
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 fresh bay leaf
Salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 pound ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 lb. orzo
Crusty bread, for mopping
1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat; add olive oil. Once oil is warmed, add the celery, onions, carrots, and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until the veggies are soft. Add the chicken stock to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, place the ground chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, nutmeg, egg, bread crumbs, and cheese. Combine the ingredients with your hands, then roll into walnut-sized meatballs (mine may have been a bit smaller than this) and add to the soup. Wash up, then add the orzo to the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat once the pasta and meatballs have cooked through and allow to sit for 2 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf, and serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side.