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Rustic Parsley & Orzo Soup with Walnuts
“This soup recipe is based on a traditional pasta dish that consists of lots of parsley, garlic, chopped walnuts, hot chile and olive oil, all fried up and tossed with pasta. We amped up the greens, made the pasta a nutritious supporting player and turned the recipe into a soup. It's best served immediately, because the orzo will absorb liquid as the soup is held. Thin any leftover soup with more vegetable broth, if desired.”
1¼ cups whole-wheat orzo (8 ounces)
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for garnish
1Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling water until just short of tender, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Return to the pot and toss with 1 teaspoon oil; set aside.
2Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring frequently, always covering the pan again, until the onion is translucent and beginning to color, 10 to 15 minutes.
3Meanwhile, coarsely chop spinach. Coarsely chop enough parsley to equal about 4 cups. Set aside 3 cups and finely chop the remaining 1 cup; set aside separately.
4Peel and dice potato. Combine the potato, the sauteed onion, ¼ teaspoon salt, broth and water in a soup pot or Dutch oven. (Set the onion pan aside for later.) Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 12 minutes. Stir in the spinach and the 3 cups coarsely chopped parsley; return to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 minutes more.
5Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the onion pan over medium heat. Add garlic and let it sizzle for about 45 seconds. Add walnuts and cook, stirring and watching carefully to prevent burning, for about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup parsley and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
6Stir the cooked orzo into the soup, then stir in the parsley-walnut mixture. Season with lemon juice and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper, if desired. Return the soup to a simmer.
7Combine tomatoes with the remaining pinch of salt in a small bowl. Garnish each bowl of soup with a spoonful of the tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil.