Tag Archives: orzo

Chicken Meatball Soup with Kale, Chickpeas & Orzo


There’s nothing better than a big pot of soup in the Winter – and this has been the longest one..ever. I’ve always loved my Gram’s Minestrone soup – chock full of veggies, ground beef and pasta and thought I would make a spin on it by making it a combination of her Minestrone and Italian Wedding Soup just for fun. I made a batch of chicken meatballs with lots of parmesan cheese, garlic, onion and fresh parsley..browned them up a bit before adding some kale, carrots, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and orzo and let it all simmer up into a big batch of healthy, heartwarming goodness. I topped it off with some extra grated parmesan, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and mopped it up with some fresh baked Italian Rosemary bread from Todaro Bros. down the street.

Who says you can’t have some fun during a blizzard? I’m happy as a clam right now. Or as a meatball, bathing in that gorgeous broth with veggies.

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Chicken Meatball Soup with Kale, Chickpeas & Orzo

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 8


  • Chicken Meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (plain, dried)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced dried onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Tony Chacere's Creole Seasoning (or sub seasoned salt or poultry seasoning)
  • pinch of cayenne
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Deliciously Dill Blend (The Spice Hunter)
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Soup:
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 20 baby carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water (use 3 or 4 if you like a thinner soup)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale, torn (ribs and stems removed)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 cup orzo or other small pasta (ditalini, pastina, risi or stars)


  1. Make the meatballs:
  2. Preheat a dutch oven over medium heat and spray with some cooking oil.
  3. Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir. Mix together well with your hands and roll into small meatballs (about 1 1/2 inch size), place on a baking sheet or plate.
  4. Brown meatballs in batches for about 6-8 minutes until lightly golden brown (but not cooked all the way through).
  5. Remove meatballs, cover and set aside while prepping soup ingredients.
  6. Make the soup:
  7. Add additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the Dutch oven and saute onions, garlic and carrots for about 6 minutes until soft and translucent.
  8. Stir in broth, water, and tomatoes; cook over medium-high for about 5-7 minutes until liquid comes to a boil.
  9. Add kale, chickpeas, orzo to the pot, let soup come to a steady rolling boil for about 5 mins or so.
  10. Add browned meatballs, cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until orzo and meatballs are cooked through. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Serve in large soup bowls topped with additional grated parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley for garnish and a side of crusty Italian bread or Rosemary Foccacia bread for mopping up the soup.
  12. Don't forget the wine, fireplace, and your Valentine to make it a complete meal.



Recipe adapted from my Grandma’s Classic Minestrone Soup and Italian Wedding Soup by Whole Foods.

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Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Leek, Thyme & Wine Cream Sauce; Lemon-Leek Orzo & Sauteed Zucchini Squash

Pan-Seared Scallops with Leek, Thyme & Wine Cream Sauce, Lemon-Leek Orzo & Sauteed Garlic Zucchini & Squash
Pan-Seared Scallops with Leek, Thyme & Wine Cream Sauce, Lemon-Leek Orzo & Sauteed Garlic Zucchini & Squash

This dish is a special treat I created for a recent audition for a new cooking show for ABC – I decided to create a dish that would not only impress the food judges and producers but also one featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients and irresistible to the tastebuds! Fresh Pan-seared Scallops served in a Leek and Thyme Wine Cream sauce with a side of Orzo (a small rice-shaped pasta) made with Meyer lemon-infused oil, lemon zest, and leeks. Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash is a perfect accompaniment to the scallops and orzo; made with garlic, olive oil, herbs de Provence, and a touch of butter, topped with some Himalayan pink onion sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Lemon-Leek Orzo

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4


  • 1 tablespoon lemon-infused oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup leeks, trimmed, rinsed, sliced
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Italian Sea Salt with Lemon, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and leeks and saute for about 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Add orzo, broth, wine, thyme, lemon zest, sea salt and pepper to taste; mix ingredients together and bring to a boil. Cover and immediately reduce to a simmer on low heat.
  3. Cook orzo for about 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and stir ingredients together. Pasta should be al dente and will be an opaque color when done. (Read the package directions if adjusting quantity to ensure cooking time is correct).
  4. Set aside, covered, and keep warm. Serve with the Pan-seared Scallops and Leek-Thyme Wine Cream Sauce and Sauteed Zucchini Squash.

Pan-Seared Scallops in Leek & Thyme Wine Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, rinsed, trimmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 pound jumbo sea scallops
  • Kosher or Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Saute garlic and leeks in olive oil over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, being careful not to burn garlic.
  2. Add the wine, chicken broth, parsley and thyme, raise the heat to medium-high and let the liquid thicken and reduce to about half, stirring often (cook about 5-7 minutes until you get desired thickness).
  3. Stir in the cream, reduce heat to low and let simmer for another minute or so, mixing the sauce well.
  4. Rinse sea scallops and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat olive oil in a cast iron saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the scallops for about 3 minutes on each side, until a golden brown crust forms and scallops are no longer pink (do not turn scallops until each side is done).
  6. Serve scallops with the Leek and Thyme Wine Cream Sauce garnished with some extra parsley and thyme with the Lemon-Leek Orzo and Sauteed Zucchini (recipes follow). A crisp white wine such as a Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc is the recommended pairing for this dish.

Sauteed Garlic and Zucchini Squash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and cut in half
  • 1 yellow summer squash, sliced and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • Himalayan Pink Onion Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.
  2. Saute garlic for about 1 minute until lightly browned.
  3. Add zucchini, yellow squash, herbes de Provence, onion salt and black pepper; mix well. Saute for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini and squash are slightly browned and soft.
  4. Serve as a side dish to the Pan-seared Scallops and Lemon-Leek Orzo.


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