Root Vegetable, Chicken and Orzo Soup

Flavourful stock, freshly cooked chicken, root vegetables and noodles make a classic chicken soup. Every country in the world has its own version. I like to use orzo, which is a rice-shaped pasta. Each grain is slightly smaller than a pine nut and is made from hard white semolina. In Italy, orzo is frequently used in soups such as this one

POACHED CHICKEN:

  • 1.5kg (3 ¼lb) whole chicken
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2.5 litres (4 ½ pints) water

    SOUP:
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 200g (7oz) orzo pasta (or similar small pasta shapes)
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Serves 6-8


Method

Place the whole chicken in a large stockpot or pan over a medium heat with the celery, onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and water. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer very gently for 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through. Use a metal spoon to occasionally skim the foam from the surface. Remove the chicken from the stock and allow it to cool slightly. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables – you should have 2.5 litres (4 1/2 pints) in total. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred the meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Set the meat aside. To finish making the soup, return the stock to a clean pan over a medium heat and add the celery, carrots, orzo pasta and thyme leaves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the pasta is just tender. Add the cooked shredded chicken, then bring back to a simmer and cook for another 2–3 minutes, until the vegetables are just cooked. Stir in the parsley and season to taste. Ladle into bowls to serve.


Minestrone Soup with Pesto

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

· 2 tbsp Simply Better Extra Virgin Olive Oil

· 1 carrot, diced

· 1 celery stick, trimmed and diced

· 2 garlic cloves, crushed

· 1 x 428g Jar of Simply Better Italian Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce

· 1 tbsp tomato purée

· 600ml vegetable stock

· 100g fine green beans, cut into 3cm pieces

· 120g Simply Better Italian Bronze Die Spaghetti, broken up into short pieces

· 1 x 400g butterbeans, drained & rinsed

· 1 tbsp fresh basil, shredded

· 1 tbsp Simply Better Italian Pesto Alla Genove

· sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

· Heat the rapeseed oil in a large pot and add the carrot, celery and garlic.

· Sauté for 5 minutes, until softened but not brown.

· Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato purée and vegetable stock and stir

· Add the broken spaghetti pieces

· Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has slightly reduced, and the vegetables are tender.

· Once the pasta is cooked add in the fine green beans & stir to combine

· Stir in the basil then season to taste with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper and cook for another minute or two, until the beans are just tender.

· Ladle into a bowl & spoon over some fresh basil pesto

· Serve with sourdough bread, if desired