Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

DF

This lemon chicken orzo soup combines fresh veggies, orzo pasta and shredded chicken in a lemony broth. It’s healthy, comforting and packed full of flavor.

These chilly days have me craving all the comfort foods and this lemon chicken orzo soup definitely hits the spot! Since it’s a one pot meal it’s super easy to whip up and I love how minimal the prep work is. Just cut your veggies, throw everything in your pot and voila dinner is served!

A bowl of lemon chicken orzo soup.

Why You’ll Love This Soup

  • It’s loaded with flavor and packed full of vegetables.
  • It’s a great make ahead recipe. Make one pot of soup and eat healthy all week long!
  • Minimal prep work required. Other than cutting the veggies and shredding the chicken, this recipe is pretty hands off!
Ingredients measured out to make lemon chicken orzo soup: chicken, chicken broth, olive oil, onions, orzo, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, celery, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, kale, lemon and parsley.

Ingredients Needed

  • olive oil – to sauté the vegetables in. Avocado oil also works!
  • carrots – I recommend using medium to large carrots, peeling them and slicing into ¼- inch thick slices.
  • celery –  wash well and then chop into bite sized pieces.
  • yellow onion – did you know that white onions are the most mild and red are the sharpest? Yellow onions fall right in the middle! Peel and dice the onion before adding to the soup. Use a white onion if you prefer.
  • garlic cloves – adds a delicious savory flavor to this soup.
  • chicken broth – I recommend using low-sodium chicken broth so you can control the amount of salt in your soup.
  • bay leaves – an important ingredient in this soup! Dried bay leaves will simmer in the soup to release a bunch of flavor. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  • thyme and rosemary – fresh or dried both work!
  • dried oregano – another important flavor.
  • salt and pepper – to season the soup and bring all of the flavors together.
  • shredded cooked chicken – you’ll cook the chicken right in the soup for added protein and flavor. Feel free to swap for turkey breasts, chickpeas, white beans or tofu/tempeh for a vegan version.
  • orzo pasta – if you’re new to orzo it looks kind of like rice, but it’s actually pasta! It’s made from wheat so steer clear if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy. I like to buy whole wheat orzo because it contains more fiber and protein than regular.
  • curly kale – for some added nutrients! Feel free to swap the kale for your favorite leafy green of choice. Spinach would work well in this soup.
  • fresh parsley –  I love adding fresh herbs right before serving for an extra burst of flavor.
  • fresh lemon juice – optional but the acidity helps the flavors pop and adds a brightness to the soup!
Collage of 8 photos showing the steps to make lemon chicken orzo soup in a dutch oven.

How to Make Soup

Stove Top

In a large pot or Dutch oven, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat to warm. Add the onion, carrots and celery to Dutch oven and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir intermittently. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt, and chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. When chicken is fully cooked, remove from pot and shred using two forks.

Return soup to a simmer, add orzo, cook for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent orzo from sticking. You want orzo to be al dente. Add chicken back in along with kale, parsley and lemon juice. Cook 3-5 more minutes until kale is wilted.

Remove bay leaves, season to taste, add more broth to reach desired consistency (I added 2 more cups).

Pour soup into bowls and serve with lemon wedges and crackers or bread, if desired.

Slow Cooker

Add everything except for the orzo, kale, parsley and lemon juice to slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Once chicken is cooked throughout, remove the chicken from the slow cooker to shred. 

Stir in orzo and kale, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until orzo has cooked and kale has wilted. 

Remove bay leaves and stir in shredded chicken, parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste and add additional broth if desired.

Pour soup into bowls and serve with lemon wedges and crackers or bread, if desired.

A large pot with lemon chicken orzo soup. A serving spoon rests in the pot.

Tips for Success

  • You can prep the chicken in advance or use rotisserie chicken for a shortcut! I love prepping shredded chicken in my slow cooker and then adding it to this soup. I also have a recipe for instant pot shredded chicken. If you’re adding rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked shredded chicken to this soup you’ll want about 3 cups.
  • Use low-sodium chicken broth and then add your own salt to control the amount of sodium in this soup.
  • Make sure you are stirring occasionally once you add in the orzo to prevent it from sticking!
A bowl of lemon chicken orzo soup. A spoon rests in the bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between orzo and rice?

While orzo and rice share characteristics, the two foods are not identical. Rice is a grain and orzo is pasta and made from wheat so steer clear if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy. You can cook it like rice (where the orzo absorbs the liquid) or more like pasta where you boil the orzo and drain the extra liquid after cooking. It can be eaten hot or cold and is a super versatile ingredient!

Is orzo pasta healthier than rice?

Orzo delivers nearly twice the amount of protein per serving compared to rice, but it does have about 50% more calories than an equal serving of rice. I usually try to use whole-wheat orzo if possible as it packs in more protein and fiber than regular orzo.

Can I substitute orzo for rice in this soup?

Totally! I haven’t tested it, but I’d recommend cooking the rice separately and then adding it to the soup when you add the shredded chicken and kale.

Can you freeze this soup?

I haven’t tried freezing this soup, but I don’t see why not! Just let your soup cool completely and store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Why is my orzo mushy?

Orzo is a quick-cooking pasta and will get mushy if overcooked, so it’s important to follow the instructions when cooking the orzo so it doesn’t overcook!

Two bowls of lemon chicken orzo soup.

How to Serve Lemon Chicken Soup

After tasting and seasoning the soup to your liking, scoop the soup into bowls. This is a meal in one but if you want to pair it with some sides, here’s what I would serve it with:

How to Store Leftovers

I love making soup for meal prep because you can make one pot and enjoy it all week long. Allow the soup to cool slightly before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last 4-5 days in the fridge. For reheating, you can warm the soup on the stovetop or in the microwave.

The orzo pasta will soak up some of the liquid so if serving leftovers you might need to add more broth or water to the soup. 

More Soup Recipes to Try

Be sure to check out all of the soup recipes here on EBF!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

5 from 7 votes
This lemon chicken orzo soup combines fresh veggies, orzo pasta and shredded chicken in a lemony broth. It's healthy, comforting and packed full of flavor.
A bowl of lemon chicken orzo soup.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if desired
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta, whole-wheat or regular
  • 4 cups curly green kale, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions
 

Stove Top

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat to warm. Add the onion, carrots and celery to Dutch oven and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir intermittently. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.
    Onion, carrots and celery in a Dutch oven.
  • Add the chicken broth, bay in leaves, oregano, thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt, and chicken.
    Pouring broth into Dutch oven.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.
    Removing cooked chicken breasts from Dutch oven.
  • When chicken is fully cooked, remove from pot and shred using two forks.
    Shredding chicken breasts on a cutting board.
  • Return soup to a simmer, add orzo, cook for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent orzo from sticking. Want orzo to be al dente.
    Adding orzo to Dutch oven.
  • Add chicken back in along with kale, parsley and lemon juice.
    Adding shredded chicken and kale to Dutch oven.
  • Cook 3-5 more minutes until kale wilts.
  • Remove bay leaves, season to taste and add more liquid to reach desired consistency (I added 2 more cups).
  • Pour soup into bowls and serve with lemon wedges and crackers or bread, if desired.

Slow Cooker

  • Add everything except for the orzo, kale, parsley and lemon juice to slow cooker and cover with lid. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  • Once chicken is cooked throughout, remove the chicken from the slow cooker to shred. 
  • Stir in orzo and kale, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until orzo has cooked and kale has wilted. 
  • Remove bay leaves and stir in shredded chicken, parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste and add additional broth if desired.
  • Pour soup into bowls and serve with lemon wedges and crackers or bread, if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 soup Calories: 362kcal Carbohydrates: 40g Protein: 32g Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 55mg Sodium: 744mg Potassium: 422mg Fiber: 7g Sugar: 9g
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon chicken orzo soup

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    4 comments
    1. Nick
      March 15, 2022 AT 11:36 pm

      5 stars
      This soup has so much flavor and is really easy to put together. Followed the recipe as written 10/10

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 16, 2022 AT 8:55 am

        Woo! Glad this recipe was a hit for you, Nick! I appreciate you coming back to leave a review and star rating.

    2. Kelly D
      March 15, 2022 AT 11:35 pm

      5 stars
      This was great!! So easy to make (I used a rotisserie chicken) and so flavorful with the lemon! Will definitely save this recipe to make again.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 16, 2022 AT 8:56 am

        Yay! So happy to hear this, Kelly! Thanks for coming back to leave a review and star rating, I really appreciate it. 🙂

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