Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

January 23, 2023  ·  Published October 5, 2015

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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup – A chicken soup that’s loaded with tiny bits of tender orzo pasta, lean protein rich chicken breasts, fresh vegetables and it’s seasoned with plenty of bright fresh lemon. It’s a delicious Greek flavored soup that will leave you craving more!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in a white serving bowl on a wooden plate.

Cozy Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup

Let’s just start by saying this is a must try soup! It’s a ready favorite and a family favorite.

It’s nutritious, full of flavor, easy to prepare, cooks in one pot, and it’s the perfect pick me up, feel better soup.

You’ll love it on a cold blistery day or even on a summery day with its vibrant lemony goodness.

Serve it with fresh hearty buttered bread or a side salad to finish the meal.

I think you’re going to love every last sip of this!

Pot full of chicken lemon orzo soup.Ingredients needed to make lemon chicken orzo soup.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – Thighs could be substituted just increase cook time slightly.
  • Salt and pepper – Season to taste.
  • Olive oil – Only a little is needed for sauteing the vegetables.
  • Carrots, celery, yellow onion and garlic – This mirepoix blend build up the flavor of the soup. And these veggies make it more nutritious.
  • Chicken broth – Or use my homemade chicken stock recipe to make it even better!
  • Dried oregano and basil – Italian seasoning could be substituted.
  • Parmesan rind (plus shredded parmesan for serving) – I love finding ways to use up those leftover rinds. They work perfectly for simmering in soup.
  • Lemon – You’ll add both the juice and the zest so don’t forget to zest before halving and juicing.
  • Spinach – Stick with fresh for best texture.

Photos of steps to make lemon chicken orzo soup. Continued steps of making lemon chicken orzo soup.How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

This soup is really easy to make. Here’s a breakdown of the steps:

  1. Pound chicken even then season with salt and pepper.
  2. Sear chicken in pot until browned on both sides, transfer.
  3. Saute veggies.
  4. Add broth, parmesan rind, seasonings and return chicken.
  5. Bring to a simmer then add orzo.
  6. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and pasta is tender.
  7. Remove rind.
  8. Dice chicken then return to soup with lemon juice and zest and spinach.

Three bowls of chicken soup with orzo, lemon, spinach, carrots, celery and onions.

Can I Make it with Rotisserie or Leftover Chicken?

Yes. You can also make it with Rotisserie or leftover chicken breasts or thighs. If doing so wait to add cooked chicken until near the end of cooking.

Can I Make it in a Slow Cooker?

Yes. If you want make it in the crock pot:

  • Saute the veggies first then add to slow cooker along with other ingredients up to and including parmesan rind (keep chicken whole).
  • Cook on low about 5 hours. Remove chicken.
  • Add orzo to soup, cook on high heat until tender about 20 minutes or so.
  • Return chicken, add lemon zest and juice and spinach. Cook until spinach wilts (should wilt within a minute or two).

Does it Freeze Well?

  • If you aren’t a soggy pasta snob (like myself) then yes this soup freezes really well as is.
  • If on the other hand you don’t like soft pasta then cook the pasta separately (add a little less broth to the soup), then freeze the pasta separately as well.
  • It  will freeze up to 3 months.

More Delicious Soup Recipes to Try!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in a white serving bowl on a wooden plate.
4.98 from 41 votes

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

A chicken soup that's loaded with tiny bits of tender orzo pasta, lean protein rich chicken breasts, fresh vegetables and it's seasoned with plenty of bright fresh lemon. It's a delicious Greek flavored soup that will leave you craving more!
Servings: 6
Prep20 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (about 3 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 parmesan rind, plus shredded parmesan for serving
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp each dried basil, thyme and rosemary
  • 1 cup (6 oz) dried orzo pasta
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 5 oz (5 packed cups) fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Place chicken on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound evenly to about 1/2-inch thickness. Dab chicken dry with paper towels and season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. 
  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil a large enameled cast iron pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sear on both sides until browned, about 2 - 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate leaving oil in pan. 
  • Add carrots, celery and onion and saute until nearly softened about 6 to 8 minutes. Move veggies to the side, add garlic and saute 1 minute. 
  • Pour in chicken broth, add parmesan rind, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return chicken to pot and bring to a simmer. 
  • Add orzo, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer stirring occasionally, about 4 - 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (it should register 165 degrees in center on an instant read thermometer). 
  • Remove parmesan rind and chicken and transfer chicken to a cutting board. Let chicken rest 3 to 5 minutes then cut into very small cubes, about the length of the orzo. Meanwhile continue to cook soup until orzo is tender a few minutes longer.
  • Return chicken to soup along with lemon juice, lemon zest and spinach and heat through. Serve warm with parmesan cheese. Note that as soup rests the pasta will absorb the broth so you can as a little more broth as desired.

Notes

Recipes makes about 12 cups.
Nutrition Facts
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 332 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 0.01g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 50mg17%
Sodium 273mg12%
Potassium 970mg28%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 7727IU155%
Vitamin C 19mg23%
Calcium 118mg12%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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119 Comments

  • Suzanne W

    Thanks so much for this delicious recipe. It was spiced perfectly using the recommended ingredients. I did not change a thing, other than using rotisserie chicken. I make a homemade stock which adds so much depth and flavour. I did find the orzo really soaks up the broth, so I added more than 7 cups to get the soup the consistency I like. Will make again. Great recipe.

  • Halie

    Hi Jaclyn,
    I just noticed that regular chicken broth was part of the ingredients, but in the pictures it shows low sodium chicken broth. I noticed in most of your recipes you use low sodium and mention salt to taste. This recipe is a little different and wanted to apply the same thing you normally do with the low sodium chicken broth but was unsure as to when to put it in more salt to taste or if you actually recommend using regular chicken broth instead? Sorry, I hope my question makes sense. Thank you! Your recipes truly never fail.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Hi Halie – you can use low-sodium or regular chicken broth here. Either will work great, sorry for the confusion on that! I’m so glad you’ve had success with my recipes!

  • Duncan Edwards

    This is an exceptional and delicious presentation. and we love it 😛

  • Susan

    Good morning, Jaclyn. This soup looks delicious and would like to know if I could substitute wild grain rice in place of the orzo and if so, should the rice be cooked first before adding to the soup?
    Thank you so much for any suggestions you can give me. I love your recipes and look forward to making this one.
    Susan

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Wild rice should work as well, but yes you’ll definitely want to cook first. Also I’d reduce the broth by 2 cups and include that in cooking the rice. Then add more broth to the soup as needed.

      • Susan

        Jaclyn, many thanks for your reply! I will let you know how it turns out after serving it to my sister friends.
        Hope you have a great week!
        Susan

  • Craig

    Wow! That was what my wife said after her first spoonful of this soup, and I couldn’t have agreed more. This soup is packed with flavor, and your description of the lemon being “bright” is spot on! I served this with a loaf of homemade roasted garlic and rosemary sourdough bread! Thank you for the recipe Jaclyn!

  • Christine

    What do I do with the rind once I removed it? Do I add it back in the soup

  • Mindy Delano

    Excellent soup! The lemon additions are a game changer as well as the rind on the Parmesan wedge. I used thighs with bone for extra flavor. This will be a welcome menu in the rotation. Thank you so much for the creation of delicious meals.