Chicken Orzo Soup From Portugal

Portuguese Soup



1 garlic clove
1 onion
5 cups chicken broth
7 cups water
8 allspice berries or ½ tablespoon ground allspice
1½ pounds chicken boneless
2 bay leaves
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ cup orzo or arborio rice, couscous, and pearl barley
½ cup fresh cilantro

Serves 6. Takes 1 hour 15 minutes


Mince garlic clove and onion. Add chicken broth, water, chicken, allspice, bay leaves, garlic, onion, and salt to large pot. Bring to boil using medium-high heat. Stir occasionally. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 50 minutes or until chicken is tender to the fork. Stir occasionally. Remove chicken. Shred chicken with 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to pot.

Add orzo to pot. Simmer at medium heat for 10 minutes or until orzo is done to your desired level of tenderness. Stir enough to keep from burning. While orzo cooks, dice cilantro. Garnish soup with cilantro.


1) Every time you hesitate to eat some new meat or fish someone will say, “Try it, it tastes just like chicken.” I used to say, “Well, why can’t I have chicken then?”

2) But don’t get angry at your annoying would-be advisor. He has to say that. It’s in our genetic make up. Just like we have a gene to determine height; we all have a gene that makes us say, “Try it, it tastes just like chicken.”

3) However, the chicken in Chicken Orzo does taste like chicken. Indeed all chicken tastes like chicken. The reverse is also true.

4) One wonders why humanity evolved this gene millions of years ago. You’d think learning to walk upright, to cook with fire, to build huts, or to harvest wheat would have been much more useful to Early Man than saying, “Try it, it taste just like chicken.” Particularly, when chickens weren’t around. And what of the woman hearing this advice? She couldn’t understand all those words nor respond intelligently, particularly when the vocabulary of the time limited itself to “ugh” and “ugh!”


– Paul De Lancey, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on

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