We had our first snow of the winter this year and this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup really warmed our cockles. There is just something about enjoying a hot bowl of soup on a winter day with your family that makes life feel so good. Now, I'm not one of those people that keep their slow cookers in a dark corner only to be brought out when the weather gets cold. No, my crock pot earns its keep every single season of the year. But it does become an all-star in the kitchen during the winter thanks to the delicious soups it brings to my table.
There is a lot to love about this particular recipe, but I'm just going to sing a few of its praises. First, you can throw it together in less than 10 minutes and get on with your day for the next 8 hours. Hands free is my kind of cooking.
Second, it uses a whole chicken which, at $0.99/lb at Costco, is some of the least expensive meat you are going to get your hands on absent crazy sales. Then you can use the bones to make your own chicken broth if you want (but don't feel guilty if you don't want because I don't want either). Third, it uses 100% pantry staples. I love orzo. It's like rice and pasta got together and had a baby. I always keep a box or two on hand and at $1.00 a pop, it's always reasonably priced.
Forth, it's delicious. Nuff said.
Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
4-6 lb whole chicken
8 oz dry orzo pasta
8 cups chicken stock or water + 1T Better than Bullion
1 cup carrots chopped ¼” thick
1 cup celery chopped small
1 cup onions diced
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Coarsely chop the vegetables and add them to the slow cooker. You want to make sure your veggies are chunky so that they don't dissolve into nothingness as they cook for the next 4-8 hours. For me, the one exception is celery which I love the flavor it adds but hate to actually eat it. So I cut it up pretty small and let it dissolve.
Add chopped vegetables and spices to a 6 or 7 quart crock pot (I like this one).
Place chicken on top.
Pour in chicken stock, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.5 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the breast reads 175 degrees.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Skim any fat from the top of the soup.
Add orzo and juice from half a lemon (or more to taste–I used the entire lemon) to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 20 minutes or until pasta is tender.
Strip chicken meat from bones and add back to slow cooker.
Ladle soup into bowls and enjoy. Serve with a small salad to get in some extra veggies. I opted for a simple Arugula and Apple Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette.
Because orzo absorbs liquid overnight, add extra water or broth to leftovers before refrigerating. You might also need to add extra water broth when you are serving your leftovers. Just add the water in before you reheat.
Makes 16 servings.