Tomato & Lemongrass Broth with Orzo

20 Mar

Tomato Lemongrass Soup with Orzo

Mother Nature is playing cruel tricks on us this year. We are well into March and every time there is a faint glimpse of spring, the Weather Gods dampen our spirits with a cold front or a wintery-mix. This atypical weather makes it rather challenging to determine seasonal produce. Winter produce is almost on its way out. Spring and even summer produce is starting to preview in stores, but more than often the quality is far from desirable. So meals and menus need to be planned in the grocery store based on whatever looks good – winter, spring or summer produce – your guess is as good as mine, till you are in the store.

Last week I came across some remarkable Roma tomatoes, despite it being quite early in the year for them. Given my insatiable love for tomatoes, I returned home with several pounds of these beauties, that found their way into a heartwarming soup recipe. Lemongrass tomato broth with Orzo

This soup is my rendition of a stellar Tomato and Lemongrass Broth I had at Smoke House Deli in Mumbai.  The broth was light and fragrant and had a few melt-in-your mouth bocconcini dumplings. My broth is also light and aromatic,  but it teases your palate with an underlying heat from the crushed red pepper and the salty depth of the fish sauce. The addition of the Orzo adds an additional layer of texture and rounds off the soup to satisfy your belly. The amalgamation of Greek, Italian and Thai flavors takes your palate on an incredible journey!

Tomato & Lemongrass Broth with Orzo
Yield: 4 -5 bowls
Time: Active 20 minutes   Inactive 25-30 minutes

½ cup uncooked Orzo
1 lb roma tomatoes, washed, peeled and quartered (See note)
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ medium yellow onion or 1 small onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups cups chicken or vegetable broth (homemade or store bought)
1 cup water
3  1 inch pieces of lemongrass (See note)
1 – 1 ½ teaspoons fish sauce (or more per taste)
Cracked black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


  • To peel the tomatoes: Bring water to a boil in a medium pot.  While the water is boiling cut a small, very shallow “X” at the bottom of each tomato. Also prepare a bowl with ice water and set it aside. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, drop the tomatoes in the water and remove within 30 seconds – 1 minute when you start to see the skin peeling off the tomatoes. Quickly remove the tomatoes and place in the ice-bath.  After 5 minutes use your hands to peel the tomatoes. Quarter the peeled tomatoes and set aside. You can do this while the Orzo is cooking to save time.
  • Most large grocery chains carry fresh lemongrass in their produce section. It can also be found at any Asian market. Cutting the lemongrass on a bias into 1 inch pieces just before adding it to a broth, helps bring out the best flavor.

1) Cook the Orzo as per the package instructions, until al dente. Once cooked drain and set aside.
2) In a medium to large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the crush red pepper and let it flavor the oil for 30 seconds, then add the onions and cook until translucent (till they start changing color). Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until the raw garlic smell dissipates.
3) Add the broth, water, lemongrass and fish sauce, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
4) Discard the lemongrass and use an immersion blender or a regular blender/food processor to liquefy the soup. Run the soup through a sieve to remove unprocessed particles.
5) Bring back the soup to the stove top on medium-low heat. Add the Orzo and cook for 2-3 minutes to warm up the Orzo.
6) Turn-off the heat and add cilantro and pepper. Taste to see if the soup is salted per your taste, if not add more fish sauce or salt per taste. Serve hot.

11 Responses to “Tomato & Lemongrass Broth with Orzo”

  1. foodisthebestshitever March 21, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    Looks damn tasty

    • neharmorarji April 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      Thank you! It’s a really flavorful soup.

  2. Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) March 21, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    This sounds delicious! Orzo in tomato soup sounds amazing as it is, and I never would have thought to also add lemongrass and fish sauce to it– yum!

    • neharmorarji April 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      The lemongrass and fish sauce add a pleasant surprise to the soup.

  3. foodfrommetwoyou March 21, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    yum..looks so good..i never thought to use lemongrass in “soup” ..i will have to give this a try…lovely post..sarah

    • neharmorarji April 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      Sarah, I love how lemongrass gives everything a very fresh and bright hint. Hope you get to try it in a soup soon.

  4. trixfred30 March 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I’m assuming you’re in the States – and Spring hasn’t sprung over here either! Weird. Also I just found out that Orzo is pasta, not rice, and I didn’t even realise! Lovely looking soup…

  5. Jayne March 21, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    I love the way you fuse both Italian and Thai flavours into one bowl. Both are my favouritest kinds of food to eat. I think I’ll call this the perfect marriage. 🙂

    • neharmorarji April 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      It’s a perfect marriage. Hope you have a chance to make this.


  1. Tilapia Tacos with Avocado, Mango & Arugula | Feeding your Appetite - August 20, 2013

    […] Add a tomato soup first course.  Either of these tomato soups would be a delightful first course: Tomato and Lemongrass Broth with Orzo or a Roasted Tomato Soup with Truffle Oil & A Herbed Goat Cheese […]

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