You're probably asking, "Why on earth is this pregnant woman, who has been complaining about the heat, making soup in the middle of summer in Arizona?" Well, I asked myself this same question last night as I was sweating over the stove but there's really one simple answer: I love my husband. David was feeling really crummy with a sore throat and kind of achy yesterday so I told him I would make some comforting soup for dinner. I've heard that bay leaves are supposed to be really good for the flu and hello - lemon! Plus, it just tastes really good.
6 chicken tenders*
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped small
3 ribs celery, cleaned and chopped small
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots (medium or large), roughly grated
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon basil leaves
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
12 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo, uncooked
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place chicken tenders on top. Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and rub all over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes (they should be just barely done until most of the pink is gone - if you use larger chicken breasts, cook a little longer). Remove from oven and set aside to cool enough to handle before cutting into pieces.
In a large pot over medium high heat, add the butter and about another tablespoon of olive oil until sizzling. Stir in onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add celery and cook another couple of minutes. Stir in garlic, carrots, bay leaves, basil and thyme and saute another couple of minutes until fragrant. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Stir in orzo and cook for 10 minutes until orzo is al dente. Pour in lemon juice, zest and add chopped chicken. Season with salt and (lots of) pepper and serve.
*you could skip this whole step and save yourself some trouble by using a rotisserie chicken, if desired.