This is a wonderful vegetarian recipe for a hearty, yet refreshing lemon orzo soup. It comes together quickly and makes for a flavourful dinner. Served with homemade croutons, this soup is perfect on a cold day.
1/2 large butternut squash
1 yellow onion
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil, to drizzle
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp (15 ml) peppercorns
4 parsley sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
2 sage stems
1 lemon, peel
Salt, white pepper and nutmeg to season
2 tbsp (30 ml) cornstarch
Baguette, torn into 1-inch (2.5 cm) rough pieces
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper to season
1 lemon, juice (about 4 tbsp (60 ml)
2 cups (470 ml) cooked orzo
2 cups (470 ml) shimeji mushrooms, trimmed
Olive oil and butter to sear mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh tarragon leaves
Freshed cracked pepper
For the Broth
Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).
Without peeling or removing ends (rinsing is ok if needed), roughly chop the squash, onion, parsnip, celery, and garlic.
Toss together with a light drizzle of olive oil and spread onto a sheet pan.
Roast in the oven for 30 minutes until just browning at the tips.
Scrape the roasted veggies into a stockpot and cover with water (about ten cups/ two litres), then add the bay, peppercorn, parsley, thyme, sage stems, and lemon peel.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes until veggies are just soft.
Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a fresh pot.
Season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg.
Return to the heat and bring back to a simmer. You should yield about six cups (one and a half litres), if not, top up with more water or cook down to reduce, adjusting seasonings as needed.
Before making the Soup, mix cornstarch with equal parts cold water to make a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the simmering broth and continue whisking for 30 seconds to one minute until slightly thickened.
For the Croutons
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Toss the baguette pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer.
Bake for eight minutes until just starting to toast.
Keep warm and dry until ready to serve.
For the Soup
Heat butter and olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Pan sear the shimeji mushrooms for one to two minutes, until just starting to lose their water. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm for plating.
When the broth is ready, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl, mixing until frothy.
Temper the egg mixture with the hot broth by whisking in a few spoonfuls at a time, then a ladle or so, until the egg mixture has been warmed through and heated without scrambling.
Working quickly, whisk the tempered egg mixture into the remaining hot broth. If executed correctly, the soup should come together with creamy yellow colour and a smooth, silky texture.
Immediately ladle the finished soup into bowls, garnishing each bowl with orzo pasta, pan-seared shimeji mushrooms, a sprinkling of fresh tarragon, croutons, olive oil, and fresh cracked black pepper.