You'll love this light and flavor-packed Mediterranean shrimp soup with a tomato-based broth, vegetables, baby spinach, and loads of fresh herbs! I used whole wheat pasta to add texture and heft to this one-pot dinner.  A generous splash of fresh lemon juice brings everything together.

A couple of tips make all the difference in cooking the shrimp just right for this shrimp soup. Be sure to read through!

Mediterranean Shrimp Soup

I am a soup/stew lover all the way.  They come together fast, are made in one pot, and are filling and hearty. What's not to love?!

Particularly during the cooler months, comforting pots from Greek avgolemono to  sweet potato stew or chunky lentil soup are a part of the regular rotation.

But when I'm feeling a little more fancy, I turn to seafood...either my Nonna-approved Sicilian fish stew or something like today's shrimp soup.

To me, a comforting, protein-packed soup that doesn't leave you feeling heavy is an absolute win! And this Mediterranean shrimp soup fits the bill on all levels--loads of veggies, fresh herbs, bold spices, lean protein, and even a little whole wheat pasta!

Adding shrimp to soup may be the last protein of choice on your mind, but I’m here to tell you it’s the perfect addition, especially when you are following a Mediterranean diet.

This particular shrimp soup feels fancy and special, but could not be simpler to whip together any night of the week!

Here is more about what you can expect from this shrimp soup...

shrimp soup with orzo, vegetables, spinach and fresh herbs, served in blue dinner bowl

Mediterranean Shrimp Soup

At first glance, this soup looks like a shrimp and noodle soup, which it is, but it’s so much more! We do the Mediterranean thing--sneak in veggies, some fresh herbs, tangy lemon, and a little kick, if you’d like, with a sprinkle of chili flakes.

First, shrimp gets a quick sear in the skillet, then takes on the flavorful tomato-based broth that's loaded with garlic, onions, and chopped green peppers.

About 10 minutes or so before the soup is finished, throw in a bit of whole orzo pasta (whole wheat preferred.) If you're avoiding carbs, you can omit the orzo, but it does add heft, making this soup a complete meal.

The final additions to this shrimp soup are just as important: a handful of baby spinach, fresh parsley, and dill. Never enough green!

I know you're familiar with parsley, but if you're tempted to skip the dill, please don't (unless, of course, you can't eat it for some reason.) I think dill can be somewhat forgotten as a flavor maker, but this fresh and grassy herb packs serious flavor and can compliment many meals far beyond potato salad! 

And we can not forget about one last but very important flavor maker that finishes this orzo and shrimp soup: fresh lemon juice. It really makes this soup come alive!

How long should you cook shrimp in soup?

One of the biggest issues with seafood generally is overcooking it. But it becomes a particular issue when we're talking about seafood in soup. So if you're wondering, "how long to cook shrimp in soup?" That is a very valid question.

It is easy to overcook delicate shrimp in a boiling pot of soup. Shrimp can go from juicy and tender to a rubbery chewy mess in minutes.

Even the largest of shrimp can cook in 4 to 5 minutes. To avoid overcooking the shrimp in our soup, we do the cooking in stages.

First, the shrimp first hits a hot skillet of olive oil to sear the shrimp until JUST pink (2 minutes or so.) Then we set it aside while we work on the various components of the soup, adding the shrimp back to the pot of soup toward the very end as the soup is finishing (about 2 more minutes or so.)

In general, shrimp cooks in about 4 to 5 minutes in tot So in this recipe, we sear it for 2 minutes and finish cooking it in the hot soup for another couple minutes. Keep in mind that shrimp will continue to cook in the pot, even as your remove it from heat. For this reason, shrimp soup is best served immediately.

How to make this shrimp soup (step-by-step)

Step 1: Sear shrimp briefly 

This shrimp soup starts by preparing the seafood portion. I am adding scallops, which is totally optional. You will first give the scallops a quick sear in a hot pan – if you choose to use scallops. Next, you will sear your shrimp in the same pan for about 2 minutes, you want to see some pink but don't worry about fully cooking it yet.

Remember, you will be adding the seafood to the hot soup later, so don't overcook the shrimp.

Both are set aside and sprinkled with some dry oregano.

Shrimp quickly seared in skillet

Step 2: Begin to build the soup

From there, you will take your favorite large soup pot, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and begin sauteing bell peppers, onions, garlic with a bit of tomato paste. Add pinch of kosher sat and oregano. Lots of flavor building already!

Bell peppers sauted with garlic and onions in a large pot

Step 3: Add liquid and bring to a simmer

Follow with broth and diced tomatoes (and by the way, if fresh tomatoes are not available, diced tomatoes from a can will work!)

Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Add orzo (whole wheat for Mediterranean-diet friendly option.)  Cook another 8 to 9 minutes until orzo is done.

Step 4: Finish with greens, seafood, and fresh lemon juice

To finish, stir in spinach, fresh parsley, dill, and lemon juice. Stir in shrimp and scallops that you had sauteed earlier. Give things about a minute for seafood to warm through. Transfer to serving bowls and enjoy! If you like heat, add a pinch of hot red pepper flakes!

Shrimp is added to the soup

Mediterranean Shrimp Soup Variations

This Medierranean shrimp soup is wonderful as is, but if you want to make some changes, you totally can. Here are a couple of ideas!

1. Add fish 

I mentioned earlier that I added a few scallops to this shrimp soup.  You can also try adding other seafood options. While I definitely recommend keeping the shrimp, it would also be fun to add fish fillet as well.

If you’d like to add fish, don’t be intimidated. You will want to pick a firm fish that can hold up to cooking in a soup.

  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Sea Bass

To cook the fish in this shrimp soup, here is what you do:

  1. Pat your fish dry, cut into smaller chunks, and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  2. Gently insert your chunks of fish into the soup liquid – you will do this after you add in the orzo and the orzo has cooked for 4 minutes – cook the fish until opaque, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Finish the soup with fresh spinach, herbs, lemon juice etc. as indicated.

2. Swap Out Herbs and Veggies

Another easy swap is to switch up your herbs and veggies! Use what you have on hand or what looks fresh at the supermarket that week.

I used fresh green bell peppers and fresh diced tomatoes. You can also use yellow squash, frozen or fresh corn, peas, celery, or kale would be some delicious swaps or additions. Add the veggies early on with the onions and garlic and give everything a good saute as you start building the soup.

As far as fresh herbs go,  you can also try cilantro, chopped chives, or a handful of basil to this easy shrimp soup.

Two soup bowls with Mediterranean shrimp soup

How long will this shrimp soup keep?

Whenever I make this soup, there is barley any leftover. But if you do end up with some, you can store it in the fridge in airtight glass containers for 2 days. I don't like to keep seafood in the fridge past this point.

When you are ready to heat it up, put the soup in a pot and heat over medium heat until warm. You may like to add a little more broth if the orzo had absorbed most of it. It may help a bit to remove the shrimp from the soup while it heats, then stir it in last minute to avoid overcooking it. Don’t let the soup simmer too long, or you will overcook the shrimp (or other seafood you may have used.)

Find more Mediterranean fish and seafood recipes here.  Definitely check out  our Mediterranean diet recipes.  For all recipes, visit us here.

 

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Mediterranean Shrimp Soup

Mediterranean Shrimp Soup


Description

You'll love this quick and easy Mediterranean shrimp soup with vegetables, aromatics, and fresh herbs, including parsley and dill! Fresh lemon juice is the perfect finishing touch to this flavor-packed shrimp soup.

Be sure to read the post for tips and additional information.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 oz Sea Scallops, side muscles removed (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano, divided
  • 7 cup low-sodium broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced (canned diced tomato will work as well)
  • 1 cup orzo pasta (whole wheat pasta preferred)
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill, stems removed
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

  1. If using scallops, pat them dry and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently add the sea scallops. Sear for about 1 ½ minutes on each side. Scallops should form a golden brown crust. Sprinkle a large pinch of dried oregano. Transfer to a dish and set aside for now.
  3. To the same cast iron skillet, add a little more extra virgin olive oil if needed. Again heat over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add the shrimp; sear for about 2 minutes on both sides. You want to see some pink, but don't worry about fully cooking it (you will finish cooking it in the soup.) Remove from the heat and sprinkle a generous pinch of dried oregano.
  4. In a medium heavy cooking pot, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil on medium-high. Add the chopped peppers, onions, garlic, tomato paste, salt and the remaining dried oregano. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the diced tomatoes. Cook on medium-high for 3-5 more minutes.
  6. When the liquid returns to a boil, add the orzo pasta. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 8 minutes until orzo is tender.
  7. Stir in the baby spinach, parsley, dill, and lemon juice.
  8. Finally, stir in the scallops and shrimp to warm through (about 1 to 2 minutes.) Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add crushed red pepper flakes for some heat, if you like. Serve with your favorite crusty bread.

Notes

  • Shrimp Soup Variations: You can make a few changes to this recipe such as adding a fish of choice. I like cod, halibut or sea bass fillet. Cut the fish into smaller chunks and add it into the soup about 4 minutes or so after you add the orzo, and let the fish cook for 4 to 5 minutes until firm, then finish the soup as indicated. You can also change up the herbs (basil and chives will work well.) Use additional veggies like diced zucchini or yellow squash (you'll want to add those earlier with the bell peppers, onions and garlic.)
  • Leftovers and Storage: If you end up with leftovers, keep refrigerated in a tight-lid glass container for 2 days. When it comes to seafood, best to eat fresh. To reheat, you may need to add more broth to the pot as the orzo will have likely absorbed a lot of the liquid. Heat on stovetop over medium heat till warmed through. It may help a bit to remove the shrimp from the soup while it heats, then stir it in last minute to avoid overcooking it. Don’t let the soup simmer too long, or you will overcook the shrimp (or other seafood you may have used.)
  • Recommended for this Recipe: Our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives!)
  • Visit our shop to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stove-top
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Mediterranean shrimp soup, shrimp soup,

*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in October 2016 and has recently been updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Mediterranean Shrimp Orzo Soup | The Mediterranean Dish. A hearty and healthy orzo soup with vegetables and shrimp. Fresh parsley, dill and oregano give it a wonderful Italian flavor. See this Mediterranean recipe on TheMediterraneanDish.com

 

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. I'm trying this recipe this week. However, I am diabetic and plan to leave out the orzo. Do you know what the carb count is without the orzo? Thank you!

  2. Can this be frozen for use later? I’m new to cooking and never know for sure, especially with the shrimp. Also, if I used canned diced tomatoes how many ounces do I use. Finally, could I use book choy instead of or even in addition to spinach? Thank you!

  3. Suzy this recipe is amazing! Loved everything about this and sure do plan on making it again and again. I liked your idea on Soup Variations with Cod or Halibut. I’m certainly going to try it that way too. I’m so glad I found The Mediterranean Diet and your wonderful recipes. Thanks for sharing !

  4. Can I substitute dried dill weed for the fresh dill weed when fresh isn’t available? If so, how much dried dill would you recommend using? I am new to cooking with dilll weed.
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Tammy! Sure! That will work. I recommend substituting 1-2 tsp of dried dill for the fresh. Hope you enjoy the soup!

  5. how many calories? Love your recipes but would like you to list the calories since I'm trying to lose some weight

    Thanks

    1. Hi, Bob. There are approximately 307 calories per serving (the recipe yields about 6 servings). Please note that we use a very basic nutritional calculator based on the ingredient list here, so the information provided is just a best estimate.

  6. Fresh dill isn’t available year round where I live. Can I substitute dried dill for fresh dill? If so, what is the ratio of dried to fresh that you recommend using as a substitute?
    I am looking forward to trying this recipe and your other fish soups / stews! Thank you

  7. About 10 years ago I had a dish called Cuban's Fisherman's Stew in Portsmouth, NH. It was one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten....until now. My wife and I prepared this dish, pretty much following the recipe...which is really hard for a couple of Cajuns. The only exception is we added, scallops and cod and forgot to add the dill. I split the pot before adding the seafood, one with orzo and one without. The flavor of the "without" pot was more intense, not having the starch. This is definitely going to the front of our recipe database.

  8. Pretty much followed the recipe exactly. The scallops did not really develop a crust but still were tasty. I added a bit of garlic to the seafood saute. I had some fresh oregano, so added a bit of that. It's a beautiful dish, suitable for company. A bit expensive to make as often as I'd like (the seafood was at least $30) but nice for a treat. And it isn't necessary to do the full meal deal. You could just use what is readily available. The flavor calls gumbo to mind.......holy trinity, seafood. Delicious.

  9. I do not like Scallops. Could I use drained canned clams instead? If so, what would the measurement be please.

    1. Hi, Randi! The scallops are completely optional here, so feel free to omit them if they're something you don't enjoy. You may be able to substitute with clams, but I have not personally tried it so it's hard for me to advise on specifics there.

  10. This is an incredible dish. I am on a low carb regimen so I used remixed cauliflower instead of orzo. I added quarter moon chunks of zucchini. I also used canned chopped tomatoes and it may be the better option.. I can’t wait for leftovers!!!!

    1. Walter, how many cans/ounces of canned tomatoes did you use? Recipe calls for three tomatoes, but I have no idea what this translates to in cans and I plan to use canned. Thank you!

  11. This was such a great "everything and the kitchen sink" recipe to use up what I had left. I had frozen: zucchini, corn, & shrimp, scallops, octopus medley, and all of the herbs but nothing fresh. It still turned out so fantastic! I can't wait to try it when I have a stocked fridge with all of the fresh ingredients. LOL. The dill and the lemon are so perfect in this.