Toasting the orzo added a whole new element to this soup. I would never have thought to do such a thing with pasta.
I made a great stock for this soup from a chicken that I simmered for about an hour with some chopped onion, garlic and homemade southwest seasoning.
4 cups chicken stock
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 T butter
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
southwest seasoning to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
fresh lemon juice to taste
shredded habanero cheese (optional)
In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock and chicken to a simmer. Lower the heat and poach the chicken for about 20 minutes. Remove chicken and shred. Return to pot.
Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. Add the orzo and cook, stirring, til deeply golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add the oil to the same frying pan. Saute carrot, bell pepper, onion and garlic about 5 minutes. Stir in seasoning and salt and pepper. Stir in orzo.
Over high heat, bring the chicken and broth to a boil and add orzo mixture. Reduce heat to medium; simmer til the orzo is just tender, 5 minutes. Stir in corn the last few minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve immediately garnished with cheese, if using.
I served the soup with homemade Ciabatta garlic bread.