A Deliciously Tasty Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup Recipe

As the fall months approach, the need for a flavorful chicken is upon us, and one of my absolute favorites is lemon chicken orzo soup. The taste of this soup lets me know that soup weather is here, and I can make as much or as little as I like. This lemon chicken orzo soup recipe takes the traditional chicken noodle to a more elegant and elevated flavor, with all the flavor you need but not nearly as heavy as other options.

What is Orzo?

If you’ve never cooked with this amazing ingredient, you are truly in for a surprise. Technically, orzo is pasta, but it is rice-shaped and can be cooked in just a fraction of the time. This may be one of the reasons I love it so much since it makes quick meals happen even faster.

Orzo is known to absorb flavor, which is why it is often paired with soups, broths, and sauces because it carries that all the way through the dish.

Where is Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup From?

Many of the flavors and veggie blends you find in a lemon orzo chicken soup recipe have a Mediterranean flair. You will find orzo a staple in many Italian, Greek, and Middle-Eastern dishes. The use of lemon in this dish is also a nod to the Mediterranean, who believe in adding lemons to balance flavor profiles.

As Italians and Greeks migrated to North America, the lemon orzo chicken soup recipe made its way across the country, into homes and even restaurants. Today, you can find it as an appetizer in various restaurants, or even enjoy a bowl of it as a meal.

Gather Your Ingredients

Many of the items you will need for Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup is probably in your pantry or freezer, but you may have to go to the market for a few of the items below.

  • Eight ounces of dried orzo pasta
  • One tablespoon of minced garlic
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Three carrots, chopped
  • Three celery ribs, chopped
  • One diced onion
  • 10 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • Six lemons, four juiced, two sliced and zested
  • One pound of chicken
  • Two cups of spinach leaves
  • One teaspoon of oregano
  • One teaspoon of thyme
  • Two bay leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


Because this is one of my favorite soups to make, I have made quite a few substitutions because of what I had in the pantry, or I just wanted to give it a try. My first substitution is the use of bottled lemon juice over fresh lemons. Sometimes, my market may be limited on the fresh lemons at certain parts of the year, so I will turn to bottled lemon juice, about a half cup for soup, and just omit the slices and zest.

While most recipes call for already cooked chicken, I have quickly sauteed up chunks of chicken breast or thighs before starting the soup. Another great option is a rotisserie chicken. This cuts down the cooking time, and I can easily shred the meat and get it there. I have also used leftover turkey from the holidays in place of chicken, and the flavor is still just as fantastic.

Hear me out on this one now. While I have all the sauces listed at home, I have used just bay leaves with Originial Dano’s seasoning, and the flavor doesn’t miss. If you are a fan of this seasoning blend, then you should sprinkle this into your soup with your bay leaves.

Build Your Soup

Once you have gathered your ingredients, it is time to start building your soup.

1. Prepare the Chicken

Whether you went with leftovers or a rotisserie or you plan to saute up some chicken quickly, you need to do this first and have cooked chicken ready to go. If you need to cook it, just put it in a saute pan on medium heat, cooking each side for about five minutes each until it is cooked through.

Once your chicken is done cooking, grab some forms or a shredder if you have one and shred the meat up to add into the soup later.

2. Prepare Your Veggies and Lemons

Wash down all the veggies you plan to use first and then get them prepared. You want to dice up your onion into small slices, and then move to chopping the carrots and celery. I try to make those veggie chops about the same size so that they cook at the same rate.

Juice four of the lemons and set the juice to the side. Take one of the other two lemons and zest one size of the fruit. Once you have enough to add in, start slicing the last two lemons to add in a s a garnish at the end.

3. Start to Saute

I grab a large soup pot or dutch oven, turn my burner to medium heat, and add my extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add in the onion and garlic for just a couple of minutes. Then i add in the carrots and celery to let them start cooking down for about five minutes.

4. Broth and Season

Once the carrots and celery are cooking down a little, I add in all my seasonings and the broth to the soup. Make sure to turn the heat up to medium high so that it comes to a boil. I like to stir while it is getting warm so the seasonings are working their way through the soup.

5. Lemon and Orzo

Once it starts boiling, I add in the dried orzo and lemon juice to the soup. Turn the burner down to a simmer and cover for five minutes.

6. Chicken and Spinach

The soup’s last part is adding the shredded chicken and spinach leaves. I give the soup a stir and also add in the zest and lemon slices to your soup. Cover for five more minutes before turning the burner off and serving the soup.

Serve and Store

If you are trying to keep this a dairy-free soup, keep the grated Parmesan to the side so that your diners can add as they want to their soup. If everyone likes Parmesan, you can add it in with the last step before serving.

Should you have any leftovers, feel free to keep them in the fridge for the next three days. You can also choose to freeze the lemon orzo chicken soup by adding it to freezer safe bags and storing for up to three months.

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