Lemon chicken orzo soup is all the comfort! Healthy and budget friendly, this orzo soup uses everyday ingredients—lemon, chicken, orzo, broth, and veggies--bright and cozy in every way!
Cold nights require a big steaming pot of warm soup in my house and this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup recipe is quickly becoming a new favorite. It's easy to make, requires pantry staples like oregano, orzo pasta, and vegetables you probably already have on hand. Plus it keeps well and freezes beautifully. What's not to love?!
I'm telling you guys, it's right up there with my turmeric lemon chicken soup or my Avgolemono, a silky greek chicken soup also made with lemon. I'm sensing a theme here!
If you've never tried lemon in soup this lemon chicken orzo soup recipe is a great way to start. The acidity from lemon brightens the flavors and helps each ingredient shine. When combined with boneless skinless chicken breasts and heaps of veggies like carrots, celery, onion, peas, and, of course, garlic you have a hearty, delicious soup for for weeknight dinners, casual gatherings, or workday lunches.
Table of Contents
Ingredients for lemon chicken orzo soup
Gather up your favorite vegetables, a few spices from your pantry, and some boneless skinless chicken breasts. Before you know it a warm, soothing pot of lemony chicken soup with orzo will be ready and waiting for you!
- Extra virgin olive oil: I like a medium-intensity EVOO here, like our Nocellara Italian extra virgin olive oil. It's mild, a little peppery and balances to the acidity from the lemon in this soup.
- Veggies: Plenty of veggies to add flavor and bulk. I used onion, celery, carrots, frozen peas, and trimmed green onions.
- Garlic: Mince a few cloves for a peppery kick.
- Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken breasts work well because they cook quickly and are easy to shred.
- Chicken stock: Use a low-sodium option to control how salty the soup is. Lemon juice brightens (aka highlights) flavors in much the same way salt can so you don't need much salt in this healthy soup recipe.
- Herbs and spices: Dried oregano, turmeric, red pepper flakes (or Aleppo-style pepper for a milder option), and fresh flat-leaf parsley.
- Uncooked orzo pasta: Orzo is a small pasta — slightly larger than rice. It will cook in the chicken broth.
- Lemon: Lemon juice added right at the end instantly brightens the soup with its acidity, while lemon zest adds even more lemony flavor.
How to make lemon chicken orzo soup
Soup is such a great one-pot meal. Plus it's easy to double so you have extra on hand for healthy work lunches, or for busy weeknights. Learning how to make lemon chicken orzo soup isn't much different from other chicken soup recipes. Chop and saute your veggies, add the chicken, stock and orzo, then finish it with herbs, and lemon. Pair it with your favorite bread (I'm partial to Rosemary Focaccia with Roasted Garlic, but really any good crusty bread will do.)
- Saute the vegetables. To a large Dutch oven or soup pot, add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and heat. Then add 1 chopped yellow onion, 2 chopped celery sticks, 2 sliced carrots, and 3 cloves minced garlic. Add a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper and cook until the vegetables have softened. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Cook the chicken. Add 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts to the pot along with 4 cups chicken stock and 2 cups water. Season with kosher salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, and ½ teaspoon each turmeric and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil before lowering the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is nearly fully cooked.
- Add the orzo and peas. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a plate. Add ¾ cup uncooked orzo pasta and 1 cup frozen peas to the pot. Raise the heat to bring the liquid to a boil again.
- Shred the chicken using two forks. Return it to the pot to finish cooking, and so the orzo can cook to al dente (which will take about 8 minutes).
- Add finishing touches. Switch off the heat and add the juice and zest of 2 lemons, the white and green parts of 2 trimmed green onions, and ½ cup fresh parsley. Serve and enjoy!
Make it a soup-n-salad situation!
With the orzo, chicken, and vegetables, this soup is filling enough to stand on its own, but if you're feeding a crowd or just enjoy variety pair this lemony chicken orzo soup with a side.
A salad is always a welcome addition with soups at my house and since all the following salads are quick to prepare, you can throw them together while the soup is bubbling away on the stove.
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad is great if you want a salad that will keep and has loads of fall flavors.
- Orange Beet Salad the lemon in this salad dressing works really well with the lemon in the orzo soup.
- Lemon Parmesan Salad If you're looking for something really quick and simple this salad is for you.
- Orange and Pomegranate Salad A beautiful fruit salad never disappoints and who doesn't like a sweet finish to dinner?
Make ahead tips
This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup recipe is perfect for meal prep! It's easy to make a double batch and reheat throughout the week or freeze and save for a later date.
This next step is entirely up to you, but if I know I'm going to make an extra pot for later I keep the orzo out, and add it when I reheat the soup. If left in the soup for an extended period of time, the orzo will absorb the broth and get a little mushy.
If you'd rather save the time and do it all at once that's totally fine, but to keep your pasta al dente cook it separately and add it when you are ready to serve the soup.
How to store leftovers
Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The orzo will continue to absorb liquid as it sits, so you will likely need to add some broth when you warm it up.
To reheat lemon chicken orzo soup, simply add it to a saucepan (with more broth or water) and turn the heat up to medium.
More easy soup recipes (45 minutes or less!)
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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, 2 breast halves
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- ¾ cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- 2 green onions, trimmed and chopped (whites and green parts)
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy cooking pot, heat about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until shimmering. Add the yellow onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the veggies have softened (about 5 minutes).
- Add the chicken, chicken stock, and water to the pot and season with another dash of kosher salt and black pepper and add the dried oregano and spices. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is nearly fully cooked, making sure to spoon out any foam that bubbles to the top of the cooking liquid.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set it on a plate and add the orzo and peas into the pot. Raise the heat to bring the liquid to a boil.
- Using two forks, shred the chicken breasts into smaller pieces. Add the shredded chicken to the pot and cook until the orzo is tender (al dente); about 8 minutes longer.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the lemon juice and zest, green onion, and fresh parsley. Enjoy.
- Make ahead tips: If you want to prepare this soup ahead of time, leave the orzo out. Cook the orzo separately and add it into the warmed soup when you are ready to serve. This ensures that your orzo doesn’t absorb all the liquid as it sits, becoming too mushy to enjoy.
- Serve it with: I like to serve soups with salads. Some ideas you could try are Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, Orange Beet Salad, and Orange and Pomegranate Salad.
- How to store leftovers: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The orzo will keep absorbing liquid as it sits, so you may need to add more broth or water to thin it out a bit as you warm it up.
- Visit Our Shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils, spices, lentils, and grains.
If I dont have frozen peas can I use canned and just put them in at the end?
Sure! That'll be just fine :).
Best soup. Flavours explode. Even my husband liked and he doesn’t like soup.
Awesome! Thanks, Susan!