Are you ready for the yummiest soup you’ve made all season? This is sort of a twist on a minestrone, in that we took the veggies and tomato base, swapped out a little something different for the noodles, and then added in something special that makes the whole dish sing. If that sounded a little vague, we’ll break it down a bit further…. The onion, celery and carrot in here aren’t revolutionary, but using orzo instead of egg noodles or penne pasta – that’s a switch that we can get behind. Plus, adding in tiny little meatballs as a way to boost flavor and protein is a huge win. They’re easy to throw together and are 100% our favorite part of the recipe.
While we love and frequently make some slightly-more-jazzed-up meatballs, throwing in minced onion, parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs and tons of seasoning – since there are so many other elements to this soup, all you have to do is roll up itty-bitty sausage balls. Sear them so they’re browned on all sides, then put them on a plate and sauté your veggies in any of the remaining juices. Then comes the standard sautéeing of the veggies, which leads us to the addition of the orzo. While technically a short-cut pasta, orzo is more similar to grains of rice than to traditional noodles. We chose it here because it makes the whole soup a little less cumbersome than one with long-cut noodles flopping around in it – no broth splashing around our plate (or on us)!
If you’re a fan of a nutrient-dense, protein-packed soup that strikes the perfect balance between being brothy and having plenty to keep it filling, this is our new go-to. We made such a big batch that we brought it to work the next day and our co-workers devoured it! Seriously, it tastes amazing and is great for you, ensuring you won’t be hungry 20 minutes after you leave the table. Grab yourself a loaf of garlic bread and get cooking!
Italian Sausage Orzo Soup
Serves 8; 35 minutes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound Italian sausage links, casings removed
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- 2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Take ground sausage and roll them into small balls. Meatballs should be 1 1/2-2 teaspoons in size.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add meatballs, searing until browned on all sides. Transfer sausage balls to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- Add onion and celery and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and translucent, then add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Season generously with salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, oregano, fennel and red pepper flakes.
- Pour in orzo pasta and toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring so as not to brown, then pour in chicken broth, water and tomatoes (including juices).
- Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 9-12 minutes, or until orzo is al dente, then reduce heat to low and return sausage meatballs to warm up. 4-5 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then stir in parmesan cheese and serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Amanda's Cookin