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Italian Sausage Orzo Soup

Italian Sausage Orzo Soup 

3 tablespoons oil

2 lbs. Ground Hot or Mild Italian sausage

1 small red onion, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

3 ribs celery, finley chopped

1 ½ cups orzo pasta

4 cups chicken broth

4 cups water

3 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes

1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning

1 ½ tablespoons oregano

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese 

Roll Italian sausage into small balls, about 1 1/2 -2 teaspoons in size.  

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add meatballs, searing until browned on all sides.  Transfer sausage balls to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.  Drain about ½ of the fat from pot.  

Add onion and celery to pot and cook 6-8 minutes, or until softened and translucent, then add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Season generously with salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Pour in orzo pasta and toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring so as not to brown, then pour in chicken broth, water and tomatoes (including juices).  Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 9-12 minutes, or until orzo is al dente, then reduce heat to low and return sausage balls to warm up, about 4-5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then stir in Parmesan cheese and serve hot. 

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