Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Homemade Chicken Soup with Orzo

Paulie had a point about soup warming collective cockles.
I mean, it is January.
Another nice thing about soup is it is a budget stretcher.
Like I said, it is January. 

My Ma usually balked at the prices charged for chicken breasts, legs and thighs.
So she'd buy whole chickens and cut and cook the pieces she wanted.
The parts she didn't want, like the wings and backs, she'd store in the freezer.
They weren't great to eat.
In those days wings were not considered a snack item.
But they were great for making soup.

In Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook, Janice Soprano's chapter Sunday Dinner 
has a great soup recipe.
One that I actually believe her Ma made.
I can remember my Ma making this, too.
It's easy, filling and uses up bits and pieces, like the celery sitting in the drawer.
And those wings and backs.

Livia's recipe doesn't use the giblets.
If you like them, use them.

A word about soup…
It isn't like baking a cake.
If your chicken is on the small size, the soup won't explode.
Ditto for if you have more of one vegetable than another.
Or if you add a few cups of frozen vegetables 15 minutes before it's done cooking.
You've just created a new recipe.

                        Chicken Soup with Orzo

Serves 6

Rinse well
1 4-pound chicken
1 pound chicken backs and wings  
Place the chicken and parts in a 6-quart pot.
cold water to cover the chicken and parts
Over medium heat, bring the water to simmer.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
Skim off the foam and fat that rises to the surface.

2 medium carrots, washed and chopped
2 celery ribs, washed and chopped
2 onions, chopped
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley (1 Tablespoon dried)
6 whole black pepper corns (1/2 teaspoon ground)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Simmer for 1 1/2 hours (2 1/2 if you bought a stewing hen).
Add water, if the bird shows above the surface of the water.

Remove the chicken and parts and place them in cold water a few minutes.
Discard the skin and bones and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Return the meat to the pot.
Reheat over medium heat.
8 ounces orzo or other small pasta (or rice), cooked
Check the seasoning.
Serve hot.

Would I make Chicken Soup with Orzo again?
It's January in Winnipeg.
You have to ask?

One recipe down.  Fifty more to go.


  1. Thank you for your post. I lent my Soprano's cookbook to a friend and really wanted to make this recipe today. (16 inches of snow outside doesn't hurt!) However, I wouldn't have been able to do it without you! Thank you. And for those who haven't done this...it takes some time, but it's worth it! I make it every year during the winter. It's a must!

  2. Hi,
    You're very welcome!! I'm so glad I was able to help.
    I'm assuming you live on the east coast and had to cope with quite a storm this weekend. Stay safe and enjoy the soup.
    Yes, it's worth it :-)


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