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I know. It’s Wednesday and I’m posting. Who knows what came over me? Maybe it was the good picture or the fact that I’d like to say I did something other than watch RuPaul’s Drag Race after work when I die. At any rate, let’s talk about soup.

In my tenure as a cook, most folks turn their noses up at soup. It’s either sick food or diet food or just plain boring; nothing you would enjoy as a main dish. For some reason, I’ve been able to convert most of the nay-sayers. One of the more recent soups was a Curried Butternut soup from Cooking Light. A personal stand-by – the one I casually make with little fanfare as if “Oh. Just making some soup. You can eat it if you want.” – is Chicken with White Beans, Greens and Orzo. It’s fast. The house has a wholesome celery/soup smell for a while after and it’s healthy (relatively). I know it’s good, but still have a moment much like the one in Ratatouille when someone is highly impressed. “They like the Linguini soup?!!!”

Chicken with White Beans, Greens and Orzo
Servings: A metric shit ton (a week’s worth of packed lunches and one dinner)

Get thee:
glug of olive oil
salt
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 bay leaves
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/2 tsp thyme
3 cubes of chicken bouillon
7 cups of water
1/2 lb orzo
1 can white beans
1 lb escarole, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
ground pepper
chile flakes (optional)
lemon juice (optional)
parmesan cheese (optional)

Assemble
1) Get out a 6 quart pot. I still swear by my red enamel one from Target. Thank you, Mom, for buying it for me. Add glug of olive oil and turn on the heat to high.

2) Once heated add onion and a 1/2 tsp (ish) of salt. Stir for 2 minutes. Add celery and bay leaves. Stir for 2 minutes. Add carrots. Stir for 2 minutes. Add chicken, another 1/2 tsp (ish) of salt and thyme. Stir until chicken is essentially opaque on the outside. You’ve just made your soup base or soffritto. Some would say the chicken doesn’t count as soffritto. However, I think that it does with chicken based soups because the chicken does sear a bit, adding a meaty, braised quality to the flavor.

3) Throw in your bouillon cubes and water. Stir and bring to a boil. (This is going to take a minute, so play with your cat or find another way to bide your time.)

4) Once at a rolling boil, add 1/2 lb of orzo. Stir, stir, stir for at least 3 minutes. Otherwise, all your orzo is going to stick to the bottom of the pot and that sucks. Set timer for 10 minutes.

5) While waiting for the orzo, chop your garlic and escarole. Escarole isn’t always available or affordable. Thankfully, Morse Fresh stocks with the seasons and their prices reflect it. Swiss chard and spinach are also good to use, especially if you can find one of those cheap bags of pre-washed spinach. Kale is okay too, but tends to be a little rough textured for this soup. You want something soft and silky. After you’re done chopping, stir that pesky orzo again. If you find it too vexing, use ditalini. It isn’t as clingy for some reason.

6) Once the orzo is done – don’t forget to test it – add one can of drained white beans, chopped greens, garlic and ground pepper. Stir until greens wilt and incorporate into the soup. Turn off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Taste for salt. Add more if needed. Don’t worry about the soup getting cold. It won’t. In fact, it will be just a touch above “not scalding” by the time you serve it. And speaking of…

7) Ladel into deep bowls. Serve with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of chiles, and parmesan. Lemon and chiles are perfect if something ails you. Parmesan is just fancy. Baguette or toasted sourdough is good if your guests feel slighted that you served “just soup.”

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