2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 sprig rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
FOR THE CHICKEN MEATBALLS
1 pound ground chicken
1/3 cup Panko
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, Parmesan, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, if using; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 3/4-to-1-inch meatballs, forming about 25-30 meatballs.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Whisk in chicken stock and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, rosemary and meatballs; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and meatballs are cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper, to taste.