A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Tomato Basil & Orzo Soup

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Tomato Basil & Orzo Soup

I want to tell you about one of the greatest places on earth: Wegmans.  If you are not from that little slice of the Northeast where Wegmans abound you have likely never heard of it, but it's one fantastic grocery store and one of my "happy places" for sure.  Yes, it's lame that a grocery store is my happy place but shouldn't be too surprising coming from me-- I have loved cooking forever!  I discovered Wegmans during my college days in Syracuse and ended up spending a lot of time here.  They were open 24/7 so with the weird studio hours that I kept as an architecture student it was not uncommon for me to take a 2 AM break to go grocery shopping in the middle of the night.  There were also a few nights that I remember sitting in their cafe drinking coffee with my friend Maggie (a Buffalo native and lifetime lover of Wegmans) and cramming all night for finals.

Mostly though, it is a huge store with a great product selection.  The pre-portioned and marinated meats and the hummus and olive bar always got high marks from college me.  And so did the soups that they regularly stocked in their prepared foods section-- specifically a delicious tomato bisque with orzo pasta.  It was always in my freezer and was a great grab-and-go lunch or dinner when my classes got crazy.  It's probably also why I was about 15 lbs. heavier then than I am now!  I did some Googling, found the recipe on the Wegmans website, and made a few swaps to turn it into a hearty and healthy homemade dinner.  It's as good as I remembered!


  • 1 1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. dry Italian seasoning
  • 32 oz. vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 1 cup Half-and-half
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, chopped

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot.  Add celery, carrots, peppers, and onion to the hot oil. Cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring often. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Add all canned tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer about 10 minutes. Add stock and continue to simmer for another 5-6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add orzo to the soup mixture and cook 8-10 minutes until pasta is firm, but tender. Be sure to stir often to keep pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Remove from heat.

Next, temper the half-and-half: Pour half-and-half into a medium bowl. Add a few ladles of hot soup to the bowl to slowly raise temperature of the half-and-half. Add mixture to soup and combine. Fold in basil. Ladle into bowls to serve or let cool and freeze in an airtight container.

*Derived from original recipe by Wegman's

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