A Squared: Recipe Re-Do: [Lightened Up] Tomato Basil & Orzo Bisque

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Recipe Re-Do: [Lightened Up] Tomato Basil & Orzo Bisque

I love a good makeover. Makeovers for people (Remember What Not to Wear? Loved it), makeovers for homes (I'm pretty much addicted to both Pinterest and HGTV), and why not make over a recipe while we are at it?

This tomato basil & orzo bisque has been one of my favorites since back in college when I used to stock up on it in the deli section of my local Wegman's. It was really flavorful and a filling vegetarian soup: perfect for my college lunches and and dinners on the go. I posted a recipe for this hearty soup back in 2012, but revisited it recently when I was doing some Sunday cooking and meal prepping.

With orzo pasta and a creamy texture involved, at first glance the original is definitely not a healthy soup-- and that is definitely the case for the the (delicious) original. This lightened up version features whole wheat pasta and the combination of nonfat Greek yogurt and 2% milk to achieve its rich creamy texture without all the added fat. The addition of fire roasted tomatoes really pumps up the flavor of this soup. It's a few small tweaks that make this soup makeover a big success and will have you forgetting that a higher fat version exists.

I love making a big batch of this soup on a Sunday, serving it as an easy meatless dinner on Monday, and then portioning out and freezing the rest to pack and take to work for lunch.


  • 1 1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • Optional: Parmesan rind
  • 1 Tbs. dry Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, chopped

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

Add all of the canned tomatoes, and bring to a boil. If you're using a Parmesan rind, at that now. Reduce heat to medium and simmer about 10 minutes. Add Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, and broth 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.

In a medium bowl, whisk milk and yogurt together until smooth. Add a few ladles of the hot soup to the bowl and stir together to slowly raise temperature of the dairy mixture. Add mixture to soup and stir to combine.

Fold in the basil and if you used it, remove the Parmesan rind. Ladle into bowls to serve hot or let cool and freeze in an airtight container.

A Squared

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