Cannellini beans, native to Tuscany, work beautifully in this rustic soup because they hold their shape after simmering in the flavorful broth. Serve with a crusty Italian bread, such as ciabatta, and a salad of bitter greens.
2 smoked bacon slices, chopped
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped plum tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 (15-ounce) can organic white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
How to Make It
Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat 7 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan; set bacon aside.
Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes. Remove chicken from pan. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add tomato, oregano, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return bacon and chicken to pan. Stir in 2 cups water and broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Add orzo, and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente. Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until heated. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, vinegar, and salt.
In response to some of the commentaries:
- Flavor: make sure you added sufficient amounts of black pepper (for "oomph")
- The use of left-over soup: Here is how I deal with the aspect of the orzo (or "risoni", if one is using Barilla pasta) soaking up too much liquid when left sitting overnight (and the vinegar evaporating in the re-heating process): In anticipation of the fact that there will be left-over soup I split the serving into two batches: the one for immediate use will have the risoni, beans, and vinegar worked into it; next day, I'd add a sufficient amount of water to the second batch of soup, bring it to a boil and add the risoni/orzo; 8 minutes later (you'll use those to set the table, bring out the bread and prepare the salad), add beans and vinegar - the soup will be comparable to the one served the night before, because the basic flavor (onion, garlic, herbs, bacon, chicken) is preserved, anyways, and the soup won't have a texture that is too thick.
I thought this was a pretty good soup. I liked the smokey flavor of the bacon and the white wine vinegar added a nice touch. I made it with chopped up rotissarie chicken breast to save some time. This will go into rotation on occassion, but won't become a family favorite.
Made this for dinner tonight and everyone (including my 3-year old and my husband who "doesn't like beans") loved it. The only thing I did differently was to use canned tomatoes instead of fresh, since I didn't have any on hand. My 3-year-old asked to have the leftovers in their lunch box tomorrow, so I know I will be making this again.
Edited the next day to add: This was definitely better fresh than as leftovers. The acid from the vinegar is lost and the orzo sucked up much of the broth. It's still very good, but I wouldn't plan to keep any as leftovers when making it again.
I love this recipe as it includes a lot of flavorful ingredients. The pasta does soak up the broth but I just add extra broth and a little extra water to help this. I also like mine with a little more vinegar than this calls for and use pancetta instead of bacon. It's a great, hearty meal especially in winter.
I love all the ingredients in this soup, and made it exactly as written, but felt it really lacked enough salt. The fresh herbs and vinegar gave it some kick, but it was just a little bland. It's so close to being great, I might try it again with a little italian sausage in lieu of bacon. I know that alters the nutritional values, but it really needs a little kick to bump it up to great.