This recipe, a twist on traditional chicken noodle soup, features corn, orzo (a rice-shaped pasta) and saffron (the stigma of a Mediterranean crocus flower). Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice by weight, and is popular in Spanish, Indian and Mediterranean cooking. The recipe calls for a “pinch” of saffron which is approximately 1/8 teaspoon (much more than that will overpower the soup). If you don’t like saffron or don’t have any, the soup will still be good without it although it will be missing some of the golden-yellow color and the distinct flavor that saffron gives to food. To make it a heartier soup, add more orzo, chicken and corn.
Golden Chicken, Corn & Orzo Soup
-Recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine
Serves five to six as a main course.
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 large ribs celery, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 pinch saffron threads
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 qt. homemade or low-salt chicken broth
2 cups finely diced or shredded cooked chicken (such as leftover roast chicken)
1/2 cup orzo
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tip: You might wonder why the orzo is cooked separately. There are two reasons. If you boiled the orzo directly in the soup, the starch from the pasta would cloud the soup broth, and the orzo would also suck up too much of the soup broth as it cooked. Boiling the pasta separately solves both of these problems.
Bring a medium saucepan of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, saffron, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the chicken and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. While the soup simmers, cook the orzo in the boiling salted water until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.
Add the drained orzo, corn, and parsley to the soup and cook just until the corn is heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if needed.
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