There are so many things to love about fall: leaves turning colors, crisp evenings perfect for football games, and so many delicious seasonal foods from which to choose. Unfortunately for me, I live in Texas which means that fall lasts roughly seven total days...not in a row, mind you. The good news, though, is that during that time I will be churning out as many autumn inspired meals as possible.
This soup is one of those meals. It checks the "feels like fall" box in so many ways, but mostly with its beautiful orange hue courtesy of the pureed vegetables. The pureed vegetables come courtesy of my daughter who "doesn't like stuff in her soup," and, by stuff, she specifically means vegetables.
The easiest way to puree the vegetables is with a handheld immersion blender right in the pot in which you are cooking. If you do not have one, you can remove the veggies and place in a blender with 1-2 cups of the soup broth, puree and then pour back into the pot. Either way, I promise this step makes for not only the gorgeous color, but also the silky smooth texture (and happy kids to boot).
3 quarts liquid (water, stock or a combination. I use 2 quarts chicken stock and 1 quart water.)
1 yellow squash, quartered and then cut the quarters in half
2 ribs of celery, cut into 3-4 pieces
3 carrots, cut into several large pieces
1/2 peeled yellow onion, cut into a few large pieces
Kosher salt, several teaspoons, divided*
4 chicken thighs
1/2 cup orzo
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
In a large pot, pour in liquid. Add cut vegetables and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil. Add chicken thighs and turn heat down to low. Allow soup to simmer about 45 minutes, skimming the surface as needed.
Remove chicken carefully from the pot and set on a cutting board to cool. Meanwhile, turn heat off under the soup and puree it using an immersion blender or a regular blender (see note above about pureeing in blender). Once the soup is totally smooth, turn heat back to low/simmer.
Remove any chicken skin and/or bones then shred chicken. Carefully put shredded chicken into the soup. Add the orzo, and allow to cook about 5-10 minutes, stirring several times to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
Taste the soup then add salt and cayenne to your liking. I typically add another 2 tsp of salt. The amount will depend on whether you started with just water or used all stock or a combo. It is important to follow your tastebuds here!
Serve immediately with crusty bread (hopefully outdoors in the crisp fall air by a wood-burning fire - hey, a girl can dream!). Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days and will taste just as delicious, if not better. Enjoy!