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Colorful and complex, Orzo Soup with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Spinach is rich with vegetables, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Carrots add sweetness, celery brings depth, and cherry tomatoes contribute brightness, sweetness and looks. Tender green spinach, added at the end lends a slightly herbaceous note. This gorgeous soup is a showstopper, and super easy, too!
This soup can EASILY be made strictly vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth.
How Easy is this Orzo Soup with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Spinach to make?
1. Prep Work:
Dreading chopping things usually lasts longer than the actual chopping takes. Fear not the prep. Put on some happy tunes, and have some fun.
You’re going to chop onions, carrots, and celery. Halve some grape tomatoes. Mince some garlic and rosemary. Put them in bowls, and set aside.
2. Boil Some Water.
Measure the Chicken-flavored Better than Bouillon to make some broth. (Of course, if you have some homemade chicken broth stored in the freezer, that’s even better!!! By all means, go with that.) I have recently discovered that Better than Bouillon tastes better than canned broth, or boxed broth, and is far cheaper. So if ease is your goal, buy a jar of chicken, and beef, and keep the opened jars on hand in your fridge. Think of them as staple pantry items. I’ve put in an Amazon link for your convenience. If you’re making this soup strictly vegetarian, Better Than Bouillon also has a vegetable stock variety.
Sauté the Veggies
Carrots, celery and onions are the three veggies that are typical of what the French call a mirepoix. Basically, they are the standard veggies you sauté to flavor any broth or soup you might be making in many dishes of American cuisine. Sometimes they’re referred to as the aromatics.
To bump up the flavor of your mirepoix mixture, you can add herbs and spices. For this soup, I went with rosemary, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. I add them during the last minute of this step so I don’t burn the garlic.
Add the Broth to the Veggies.
Add the Orzo, Chickpeas, and Tomato and Simmer
What is Orzo?
Orzo is a PASTA, but it looks a whole lot like rice. You’ll usually find it packaged in boxes, or sometimes compact little plastic bags of it, in the pasta section. Although it LOOKS like rice, it is NOT rice, and cooks much more quickly than rice. Usually around 10 minutes, instead of the 20 it takes rice. So once you add the orzo, your soup is on the clock, because you still want that pasta to be al dente. (Don’t over cook it. Check the package directions to see how long your variety takes to cook.)
2. Dried and Home cooked vs. Canned Chickpeas
Of course chickpeas you’ve cooked yourself from dried is the first choice here. Yours will likely have more flavor than canned chickpeas. But I’ve made this soup with both types, and canned, drained chickpeas work just fine. No shame! (You realize that chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing, right? Good. I thought you did.)
3. Add the halved grape tomatoes.
Following the addition of the orzo, chickpeas and tomatoes, simmer the soup for approximately 10 minutes.
Finish cooking your gorgeous soup by cooking just till the spinach is wilted. That will only take one or two minutes.
To Serve Your Orzo Soup with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Spinach:
Finish each bowl with a sprinky-dink of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a swirl of Extra-Virgin Olive oil on top, for a bit more flavor and richness. This soup is healthy, and just delightful, as well as beautiful. What more could you ask???
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Pinch of red-pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (OR 1 bag of dried chickpeas, cooked according to package directions, and drained)
- 1 cup roughly chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dried uncooked orzo
- 1 bag of spinach leaves (15 oz.)
- Salt and black pepper
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more as needed
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the carrots, fennel or celery, and onion. Cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes and rosemary, if using, and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the broth, if using, or water, along with another 2 cups water, and bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling, add the chickpeas, tomatoes and orzo. Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer 10 minutes, or until the orzo is tender. Uncover and stir in the greens, letting them simmer until soft, about 2 minutes.
- Add more water if you want the mixture to be more souplike, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped scallions (if desired), grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
The chopping takes just a few minutes, and things need to be added in order, due to varying cook times. Your efforts will be deliciously rewarded!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 313Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 360mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 19g