Our team at 910 Media Group loves lunching … and a little friendly competition. So, we got our food-loving crew together at the Traverse City office and had a good ol’ winter soup smackdown. These are the three winning recipes—all rich, hearty and soul-warming. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

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First Place: Chicken, Lemon & Tarragon Orzo Soup

Made by Warren Kendall, Soup-erstar Systems Analyst II
What our team said: “Flavors on point.” “Feels like a hug.” “Texture. Taste. Aroma.”

• 1 onion, chopped (medium/large, white or sweet)
• 1/2 stick salted butter (higher quality the better!)
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1 carrot, diced (medium)
• 2 celery stalks, diced
• 2–8 garlic cloves, minced/grated/pressed (depends on relative clove size and desire for garlic taste—I used 6)
• Zest of two lemons
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Red pepper flakes (optional)
• 1 package of chicken thighs
• 6 cups chicken broth (I used Better then Bouillon)
• 2–5 Tablespoons tarragon (again, adjust for your taste—I used 4)
• Rind of parmesan cheese
• 1 cup orzo
• Juice of two lemons
• Splash of heavy cream (subjective measurement, but I suggest erring on the side of “lighter”)

Warren with Lemon Tarragon Soup

Photo by Allison Jarrell

Place stock pot over medium heat. Sauté onion with 1–2 tablespoons of olive oil for roughly 5 minutes or until barely translucent. I form a “zone” in the middle of the pot by pressing the onions to the side, and create a light roux with the butter and flour until it starts to gain just a slight bit of color. Mix in the onion and then add carrot, celery, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper, and optionally the red pepper flakes. Cook together while stirring continuously for another few minutes.

When the garlic starts slightly browning, or your patience expires, add the chicken broth, tarragon, and chicken thighs—simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll likely want to reduce the heat, but do not cover—let this slightly reduce. During this time, add the parmesan rind for 5 to 10 minutes. The goal is flavor extraction, but don’t let the rind break apart—those pieces are NOT delectable if found in the final product. Remove the rind and chicken thighs, add the orzo, and increase the heat. Continue to simmer until the orzo expands, about 15 to 20 minutes. While the orzo cooks, shred the chicken thighs to your preferred size. Once the smell within your kitchen is irresistible, kill the heat and remove from the burner, reinsert the shredded chicken thighs, add the lemon juice and heavy cream. Stir to combine. Serve with whatever accoutrements fit your fancy. For me that means additional grated parmesan and fresh ground pepper. Enjoy!

Second Place: Lasagna Soup

Made by Rachel Soulliere, Digital Content & Social Media Strategist
What our team said: “Warm Comfort.” “Cheez ballz <3”

• 1 pound Italian sausage
• 1 onion, chopped and sautéed in olive oil
• 6 cloves garlic
• 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
• 28 ounces tomatoes (I used diced)
• 7 cups chicken broth
• 2 teaspoons parsley
• 2 teaspoons oregano
• 2 teaspoons basil
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 to 2/3 of box of broken up lasagna noodles

Top soup with cheese mixture!
1 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan (mix together!)

Watch this TikTok video by recipe creator 3piecesofpecan

Rachel with Lasagna Soup

Photo by Allison Jarrell

Lasagna soup in a crockpot

Photo by Allison Jarrell

Third Place: Crock-Pot Reuben Soup

Made by Meg Lau, Account Executive
What are team said: “WUT. A sandwich in a bowl.” “This NEEDS to become a thing.” “Creative and super tasty.”

• 3–5 pounds corned beef with seasoning packet
• 32 ounces chicken broth
• 2 Tablespoons butter
• 2 Tablespoons flour
• 2 cups whole milk
• 8 ounces Swiss cheese
• 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
• 32 ounces sauerkraut

Meg with her Reuben Soup

Photo by Allison Jarrell

How to Cook Meat:
Place your 3- to 5-pound corned beef roast in the crock pot. Add 32 ounces of chicken broth and the seasoning pack that comes with the meat. Cook on low for 6 to 9 hours.

Remove cooked meat from crock-pot and shred (easiest way is to put the meat in a bowl and use two forks to gently pull apart). Set meat aside.

In a saucepan, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter. After butter is melted add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk together until a thin paste is formed. Simmer for about 30 seconds over heat and slowly start to add 2 cups of whole milk whisking the entire time. Once milk is added keep mixture on low heat. Cube the cream cheese and add to saucepan. Whisk until cream cheese has melted and been incorporated. Add Swiss cheese and whisk until melted.

Add shredded corned beef back to crock-pot. Remove any large chunks or peppercorns that might have been in the seasoning packet. Add the cheese/milk sauce to crock-pot along with sauerkraut. Gentle stir until everything is combined and warm. Serve with Swiss cheese garnish and/or rye toast points.

Photo(s) by Allison Jarrell