Delicata Squash, Chicken and Orzo Soup

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Recently in my town, Bellingham, Washington, there was a riot of hundreds of high school and college kids. It erupted after the police shut down a block party. The group began throwing beer bottles at the police and calling them names. One girl even “twerked” on the side of police car. In case you don’t know what this is, it’s just upside-down-booty-shaking. Tricky, I know.

I went to work the next day, and everyone asked me if I was the twerking girl they had all heard about in the news. Though booty shaking is one of my favorite hobbies, I’m petrified of large groups of people, especially my inebriated peers…so no, I was not even there.

My dad texted me asking if I was involved in the riot. I responded with the truth: “No dad, I was playing board games.”

After all, someone who gets so much enjoyment out of spending a day making autumnal soup is probably not also a violent partier. Speaking of soup, here is a recipe for a soup by Williams Sonoma with perhaps the greatest fall flavors. The combination of squash, hearty herbs, chicken broth and orzo makes a warm, delicate and savory soup that only gets better as leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 4 delicata squash, about 2 3/4 lbs., peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
  • 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 small, yellow onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 sage leaves, torn into pieces (I also added a sprinkling of fresh, chopped rosemary and thyme)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (Plus more if you want to reheat it the next day)

Position 1 rack in the upper third and 1 rack in the lower third of an oven. Preheat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, toss the squash with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread on the prepared baking sheet. Place the chicken on another baking sheet, brush with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Place the squash on the top rack in the oven and the chicken on the lower rack. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160°F, about 20 minutes. (Or do what I do, poke it and see if it feels firm.)

Remove the chicken from the oven and continue to roast the squash until it is tender and caramelized, about 10 minutes more. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the 1/2 tsp. salt and the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

 In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic and sage and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo, chicken and squash and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes then season with salt and pepper.

If you want to reheat it the next day, ladle the portion into a saucepan and add more chicken broth to get the consistency of the previous day.

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