Lemon Orzo Soup with Pesto
In the mood for a light, Mediterranean-style soup? The flavor profile for this flat-belly recipe is pesto (basil, garlic, parmesan cheese) brightened with a bit of lemon. Chicken provides the protein, and iron-rich spinach adds nutrients and color. Whole-wheat orzo (pasta shaped like grains of rice) adds some bulk.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bunch fresh thyme
12 ounces whole chicken breast
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole-wheat orzo
1 lemon, halved, with one half sliced into 8 rounds, for topping
2 cups spinach, chopped
8 teaspoons jarred pesto, for topping
In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and salt, and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.
Tie the thyme springs together with kitchen string, and toss in the pot.
Add the chicken breast and broth and bring to a boil. Partially cover the pot and continue to cook for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
Add the orzo to the Dutch oven or pot, and continue to boil until the orzo is cooked al dente, about 5 minutes.
Shred the chicken, and squeeze with the juice of one-half of the lemon.
Stir the shredded chicken and spinach into the soup. Remove the thyme springs.
To serve, top each bowl of soup with a lemon slice and 1 teaspoon of the pesto.
Create a new flavor combo by making a homemade pesto with mint or rosemary: In a food processor or blender, puree 3 cloves garlic with 1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts, and then blend in 2 cups of your favorite fresh herbs. Slowly add in 1/2 cup olive oil, and process until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
Per serving: Calories 169 (From Fat 40); Fat 4g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 28mg; Sodium 685mg; Carbohydrate 18g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Protein 15g.