My chicken and orzo Soup is a bowl of pure comfort! Full of hearty orzo, vegetables, and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth. The bright citrus flavor takes classic chicken noodle soup to the next level.
This time of year we spend a good part of the weekends working to prepare our garden beds for the spring. I start dreaming of all the fresh herbs, tomatoes, and zucchini to come and the kids start their annual plea for new additions like watermelon and more berries.
After a morning working in the yard we are always starving and very ready for a big bowl of this chicken and orzo soup with lemon!
This soup is so simple to make and ready in under 30 minutes but tastes like it simmered away for hours. Our kids have declared this their new favorite soup which is high praise because they LOVE soup!
Ingredients for Chicken and Orzo Soup:
Orzo: orzo is our favorite but you can sub with any small pasta shape you like.
Mirepoix: this classic mix of carrots, celery and onion is the flavor base for this soup. Simply sauté in butter or olive oil until softened and fragrant to create the flavor base for this delicious lemon chicken soup.
Chicken: you need 2 cups of diced or shredded chicken for this recipe. I used leftover chicken thighs Jordan had cooked on the Traeger and it was delicious! A rotisserie chicken works great for this or even leftover skinless boneless chicken breasts. Simmering it in the lemony broth results in such flavorful tender chicken!
Chicken stock: we use our own homemade chicken broth but any broth you like will work. I always recommend using low sodium chicken broth so you can season the soup to your taste.
Lemon juice: fresh lemon juice gives a subtle lemon flavor to the broth. If you want an even more intense pop of lemon flavor add a little lemon zest when you sauté the mirepoix!
Bay leaves: I always add bay leaf to any broth based soup or stew. The subtle bitterness enhances the other flavors keeping them from becoming too heavy.
Fresh herbs: I like to use fresh thyme and Rosemary in the soup and then garnish with fresh parsley.
How to make Chicken and Orzo Soup With Lemon:
Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add your onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until your vegetables are tender.
Stir in half of the lemon juice, and the springs of fresh thyme and rosemary. Sauté until fragrant, just a couple of minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to a boil. At this point I like to remove the sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary because I want the flavor but our three year old would definitely object to seeing them in his soup!
Next, stir in the orzo, reduce heat, and simmer until the orzo is tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Add your diced chicken and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Finish with the other half of your lemon juice and fresh parsley or fresh dill.
Serve immediately with crusty bread and your favorite salad!
Tips and Questions for Chicken and Orzo Soup:
Storing Chicken and Orzo Soup With Lemon: you can store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay good for up to 3 days.
Reheating: when reheating your chicken and orzo soup add a little more liquid before microwaving or reheating on the stove.
How to prep ahead: If you don’t plan on eating it right away you should wait to add the orzo. The orzo will absorb all the broth and become quite mushy.
Make it vegetarian: my favorite way to make this soup vegetarian is to replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and the chicken with cannellini beans.
Pre cooking the orzo: The starch from the uncooked orzo gives you a slightly creamy broth. If you don’t want a more classic chicken soup style broth you can cook the orzo separately and add it at the end with the chicken.
If you aren’t going to eat the leftover chicken and orzo soup the next day I really don’t recommend storing the orzo in the broth.
What is a Mirepoix?
Mirepoix is a French flavor base made of onion, celery and carrots gently cooked in butter or oil. The traditional ratios is 2:1:1, two parts onion, one part carrot, one part celery. Mirepoix is integral to the flavor of most soups, stews, and sauces.
Should I rinse Orzo?
You should only rinse orzo if you are baking it or serving it cold. No rinsing is required for this Chicken and Orzo Soup .
How long should Orzo cook?
Orzo should cook for about 10 minutes or until it has an al dente firm chewy texture. Be sure to stir your soup occasionally to prevent the orzo from sticking together.
What could substitute orzo in this recipe?
You can substitute any pasta you like in this recipe just adjust the cook time and liquid accordingly.