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story.lead_photo.caption Chicken Orzo Soup. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

Here's a warm, comforting and easy take an old favorite, chicken noodle soup. Using cooked chicken, either rotisserie or from the deli, cuts down on the cooking time. Parsnips add a hint of sweetness and fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese add a flavorful touch. This is a one-pot meal that's perfect for a winter's evening.

Orzo is rice-shaped pasta, but you can use any small pasta such as small macaroni, pastina or acini di pepe.

Helpful hints

Chopped fresh onion can be used instead of frozen. Saute it a few minutes longer.

Any type of cooked chicken or turkey can be used.

Look for unsalted chicken broth in the grocery aisle.


Start vegetables and add broth and orzo.

While this simmers, cut the chicken into small pieces.

Finish soup.

Shopping list

To buy: 10 ounces cooked rotisserie or chicken breast, one bag frozen onion, one bunch celery, one bunch parsnips, one bag washed, ready-to-eat baby spinach, one bunch fresh basil, one small piece Parmesan cheese, one carton unsalted chicken broth and one box orzo.

Staples: olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of more than 30 cookbooks. Listen to Linda on and all major podcast sites. Email her at [email protected]



Makes: 2 servings

2 teaspoon olive oil

2 cups frozen chopped onion

1/2 cup sliced celery

1 cup peeled thinly sliced parsnips

4 cups unsalted chicken broth

3/4 cup orzo

10 ounces cooked boneless chicken breast (skin removed)

2 cups fresh washed, ready-to-eat baby spinach

1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and parsnips. Saute 3 minutes. Add broth and orzo and simmer 8 minutes or until orzo is cooked al dente. Meanwhile cut the chicken into small pieces. When the orzo is cooked, add chicken and spinach. Stir until spinach is wilted and chicken is warmed, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle cheese on top.

Per serving: 634 calories (19 percent from fat), 13.1 g fat (3.4 g saturated, 4.3 g monounsaturated), 135 cholesterol, 61.7 g protein, 67.9 g carbohydrates, 8.4 g fiber, 470 mg sodium.

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