What's For Dinner: Tomato Orzo Soup

In less than an hour, you can take this hearty Tomato Orzo Soup from the stovetop to your dinner table. Grilled cheese sandwiches optional. (But highly recommended.)

Tomato Orzo Soup || A Less Processed Life

It always seems to take me a couple of weeks to get back into my normal blogging schedule once the calendar rolls over to January. Perhaps it's burnout from all the baking and cooking that goes into celebrating back-to-back holidays in November and December. That or all the indulgent food I've likely ingested over the same time period. Or maybe it's the perfect-for-hibernation weather that typically hits at the beginning of the year. Whatever the case, I like to take my Januarys slow.

Tomato Orzo Soup || A Less Processed Life

But, I finally found some inspiration this past weekend and made a large pot of soup to enjoy for a few days during the week. This recipe comes from the inimitable Ina Garten, so of course it's a keeper. I made a few changes here and there, and in lieu of making grilled cheese croutons (which sound oh-so-good, and I'll have to make someday), we instead enjoyed our soup with a perfectly-melty grilled cheese sandwich on the side.

Tomato Orzo Soup || A Less Processed Life

While Ina seasons her soup with saffron, I went the slightly less expensive route and flavored my version with smoked paprika. Just a pinch will do, and it lends the soup a delicious smoky sweet flavor. And the addition of orzo gives is just the right amount of heartiness and bite. The soup is finished with heavy cream which helps to smooth out the flavor and texture and adds the perfect amount of decadence to what is otherwise a rather humble soup.

Tomato Orzo Soup (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
large pinch smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the onions and saute until very soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Stir in the vegetable stock, both cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Increase the heat to medium, add the orzo and cook at a low boil for seven minutes. Then reduce the heat back to low, stir in the heavy cream, and simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Serve immediately.

(adapted from this Barefoot Contessa recipe)