Chicken Orzo Soup

It’s amazing that I’ve been craving chicken soup in 100 degree weather, but I am — and not any kind of chicken soup but one that is crammed with veggies, pasta, and herbs, and this is what it looks like. And in a feeble attempt to make it healthy, I slid in 2 or 3 coins of fresh ginger for extra flavor. I wish I had a cold or something so I had a reason to eat it all day.

  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 or 3 coins of ginger to simmer with the broth (optional)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (also optional) — I love the flavor!
  • 1 pound boneless chicken breast or thigh meat, visible fat removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, divided
  • 1 medium carrot (about 4 ounces), scrubbed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 celery rib, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well, halved and then thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3/4 cup orzo (about 4 ounces)
  • 12 stalks asparagus (about 4 ounces), trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) green peas (fresh or frozen; if frozen, no need to defrost)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot over high heat, heat the chicken broth. Cut the chicken pieces in half or thirds crosswise. Add the chicken, a bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir once or twice, cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, cover and gently cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees when inserted into the thickest pieces of chicken, 10 to 12 minutes. Do not allow the chicken to boil. (This is a good time to prepare your vegetables.)Advertisement

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool to the touch, then slice and shred with a fork or your fingers, breaking it into bite-size pieces.

Once the chicken is removed from the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and add the carrot, celery, leeks, thyme, red pepper flakes (if using) and the remaining salt and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken, orzo, asparagus and peas and cook until the orzo is tender and the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 7 minutes, stirring two or three times to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Stir in the tarragon. Taste, and add salt and pepper, as needed. Stir well to redistribute some of the orzo that may sink to the bottom, then ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with more fresh tarragon, if desired, and serve hot.Advertisement

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