Have you ever tried the Lemon Chicken Orzo soup at Panera? It is seriously good. (Why is it that every time I find something at a restaurant that I REALLY like, they take it off the menu? ) Apparently lemon chicken orzo is a seasonal item and only available for a very limited time in the Fall.
What is a girl to do when her favorite soup is only available for a month? (Make a copycat recipe of my own of course so I don't have to wait until next Fall to have some more.)
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 large (or 3 small) carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
8 cups of fat-free low sodium chicken broth
Zest and juice (about 1/3 of a cup) of 2 lemons
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 cups orzo pasta
about 2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
a couple of generous handfuls of fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.
Add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes to allow it to heat through. Stir in spinach and allow it to wilt for about one minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and serve.
This is pretty close to the original version that I had at Panera. I might even be so bold as to say that my recipe might just be SLIGHTLY better than theirs. It is REALLY yummy. I tried to freeze some for another day and the orzo got a little mushy so my advice is to add the orzo later if you plan to freeze this soup.
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