Tomato & Orzo Soup (Manestra)

I am always on the lookout for cheap, flavoursome and healthy dishes and this is a winner! The weather in London right now is pants – so I fancy something warming and that doesn’t take much thought – but of course, delivers on flavour and health benefits. I never tried this when I lived in Greece but its full of the flavours of the Mediterranean! (who knew even tinned tomatoes are good for you!)

About 4 tbsp olive oil
1 x large onion finely chopped
4 x cloves of garlic grated
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes – blitzed with a hand blender
1 x generous tbsp of tomato puree
1/2 tsp of sugar or a squirt of ketchup
sea salt
black pepper
2 x tsp of strong dried oregano
1 x cup of orzo pasta
6 cups of vegetable stock
2 x tsp mint

In a large saucepan, gently heat the olive oil and add in the chopped onion and saute until soft.
Next, add in the grated garlic and oregano and stir thoroughly.
Add in the blitzed or mashed plum tomatoes, tomato puree and ketchup (or sugar) and let simmer for a few minutes.
Then pour in the 6 cups of vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
Add in a generous amount of cracked black pepper and taste, add in salt if needed (be careful that your stock is not already salty).
Now add in the orzo pasta and simmer for around 8 minutes – (you don’t want the orzo too soft as it still cooks when the heat is turned off). Add in the dried mint.
Keep stirring the mixture (every few minutes) to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom or clump together.
One thing to bear in mind is that pasta has an amazing capacity to suck up gallons of liquid! you may need to add more liquid and seasoning if you want to have for lunch the next day.
Option: you could leave out the mint and cook the soup with a stick of cinnamon instead.

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