Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is a vibrant & fresh soup bursting with brilliant lemon essence and tender orzo pasta. It’s the perfect summer soup recipe!

Discover a speedy and effortless homemade Chicken and Orzo Soup Recipe that strikes the perfect balance between satisfying and refreshing. Infused with the vibrant flavors of fresh lemon, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary, this soup offers a delightful twist on the classic chicken noodle.

lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in a white bowl.

Pro Tip: We always begin by roasting our own chicken to craft a richly flavored stock and ample shredded meat. However, if you’re short on time, you can expedite the process by opting for store-bought chicken broth and a rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken. Rest assured, whether you choose the homemade route or the quicker alternative, the result will be equally delicious!

Orzo (/ˈɔːrzoʊ, ˈɔːrtsoʊ/, Italian: [ˈɔrdzo]; from Italian for ‘barley’, from Latin hordeum), also known as risoni (pronounced [riˈzoːni]; ‘large [grains of] rice’), is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice.

Orzo pasta, resembling rice but made from wheat semolina flour, is a versatile ingredient with a range of culinary uses. Its small size cooks quickly and absorbs flavors well, making it ideal for soups, salads, casseroles, and more.

In Mediterranean cuisine, it’s a favorite for adding texture to soups and serving as a base for pasta salads. Orzo effortlessly complements both bold and delicate flavors, making it a go-to choice for countless recipes. Its quick cooking time and ability to absorb flavors make it a pantry essential, perfect for elevating dishes with its unique texture and taste.

What Does Orzo Pasta Look Like?

tri colored orzo
Tri-Color Orzo
Sample of Orzo
Orzo

To Rinse or Not to Rinse Orzo? Here's the Answer

Rinse orzo only if it’s served in a cold salad or baked in the oven. DO NOT RINSE, otherwise, rinsing removes the light coating of starch that helps sauces and seasonings stick to the pasta.

How Do You Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup?

Even though it looks like it might take hours, this lemon chicken soup is really easy to make! 

  1. Saute the veg + herbs in olive oil for 10 minutes.
  2. Toss in the garlic, lemon quarters and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add the stock, shredded chicken, + orzo and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove quartered lemon. Stir in the lemon zest + juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Ladle into warm bowls, garnish with fresh herbs, sliced lemon and serve with crusty bread + a side salad if desired, the soup does shine on its own though. 
White bowl of Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The Speedy Solution for Weeknight Dinners: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is a go-to choice for a speedy meal due to its efficient preparation and cooking process. With pre-cooked or rotisserie chicken and store-bought chicken broth, the soup comes together swiftly. The orzo pasta cooks quickly, and the fresh lemon adds instant brightness, making it a perfect option for busy weeknights when time is of the essence.

Cooking Orzo in Soup

Orzo pasta is added directly to the soup and cooks as it simmers, eliminating the need for an extra pot and streamlining the cooking process. However, if you anticipate leftovers, be aware that the orzo may absorb more liquid, so additional stock might be necessary when reheating to maintain the desired consistency.

Alternatively, cooking the orzo separately in chicken stock allows for greater control over portion sizes and is advantageous for meal prep, as reheating won’t require extra broth. 

Nourishing Nutrients: Exploring the Health Benefits of Orzo Pasta

Orzo pasta can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced meal. It is primarily made from semolina flour, which provides complex carbohydrates for energy. Additionally, orzo contains small amounts of protein and fiber, contributing to satiety and digestive health.

As with any pasta, it’s essential to consider portion sizes and the ingredients used in accompanying dishes. Opting for whole grain orzo can boost fiber content, while pairing it with lean proteins and plenty of vegetables can create a nutritious and satisfying meal.

While orzo pasta is not inherently unhealthy, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and to enjoy it as part of a varied and balanced diet.

How Much Does Orzo Make Per Uncooked Cup?

Orzo expands during cooking, roughly doubling or even tripling in volume. On average, 1 Cup of uncooked orzo yields approximately 2 to 3 cups of cooked orzo, depending on factors such as cooking time and fluid absorption.

White bowl of Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Can I Use Rice Instead of Orzo?

Definitely! You can use rice or any short-cut pasta, adjust for cooking time and taste for doneness every few minutes. Also, remember that there will be carryover cooking once removed from the heat.

Orzo vs. Rice: Making the Choice

Orzo boasts double the protein content of brown rice and slightly higher calorie content. It’s low in fat, and when chilled, orzo, similar to other pasta varieties, forms resistant starch, an essential type of fiber.

Achieving Creaminess: Mimicking the Authentic Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

  • Remove the soup from the heat.
  • Break 2 large eggs and whisk until frothy. 
  • Slowly pour in a ladle of warm soup to the eggs, whisking briskly as you pour in a stream. (This tempers the eggs).
  • Then slowly pour the egg mixture into the soup pot, stirring constantly as you pour until the soup is creamy and blended.

If you want to learn more about tempering and techniques on how to do it correctly then check out this great video from our friends at Serious Eats!

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

  • To speed up this recipe, use pre-shredded chicken, either from a rotisserie chicken, or leftovers. Chances are your deli will also carry shredded chicken too.
  • Be sure to use fresh herbs, you’ll find them in the produce section at your local grocer. If you have to sub dried herbs then add a little at a time and taste for flavor.
  • This soup is great for leftovers! Take note though, the orzo will soak up more of the broth as it sits, so you might need to add a splash of chicken broth when reheating.

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lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in a white bowl.

Preserving Zesty Comfort: Storing Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup for Extended Freshness

Here’s how to store lemon chicken orzo soup to maintain its flavor:

  1. Cooling: Allow the lemon chicken orzo soup to cool to room temperature after cooking. Avoid leaving it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.

  2. Transfer to Containers: Once cooled, transfer the lemon chicken orzo soup to airtight containers for storage. Use containers that are suitable for both storing and reheating, such as glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.

  3. Refrigeration: Store the lemon chicken orzo soup in the refrigerator if you plan to consume it within a few days. Proper refrigeration helps to slow down the growth of bacteria and preserve the freshness of the soup. Leftover lemon chicken orzo soup can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

  4. Labeling: Properly label the containers with the date of preparation to keep track of their freshness. This helps you identify how long the lemon chicken orzo soup has been stored and when it should be consumed by.

Shelf Life: When stored properly in the refrigerator, leftover lemon chicken orzo soup can last for 3-4 days. However, for the best flavor and texture, it’s recommended to consume it within a few days of preparation.

By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy the zesty comfort of lemon chicken orzo soup for longer periods, whether as a cozy meal option or a convenient leftover lunch.

How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in a light blue bowl, garnished with lemons.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is a vibrant and fresh soup bursting with brilliant lemon essence and tender orzo pasta. A perfect end of summer or crisp fall day soup.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 10 1 cup servings

Equipment

  • heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch Oven

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large white onion, topped + skinned + ½ inch dice
  • 3 medium carrots, scrubbed + peeled + cut into ½ inch coins
  • 2 stalks celery, scrubbed + cut into ½ inch moons
  • 1 teaspoon Tarragon, fresh + finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme, fresh + finely chopped
  • 1 sprig Rosemary, fresh
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed + skinned + finely diced
  • 8 cups (2 liters) homemade chicken stock, sub favorite store-bought broth
  • 4 cups roasted chicken, white + dark + shredded
  • 1 cup (100 grams) tri-colored orzo, sub white orzo
  • 2 large ripe lemons, (1) zested + juiced (1) quartered
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt + freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Heat a heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil and reheat for 30 seconds, then add the onions, carrots, celery, Tarragon, Thyme, and Rosemary. Sweat down for 10 minutes, stirring with a flat bottomed wooden spoon every few minutes.
    Ingredients sauteing for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in a Dutch Oven.
  • Toss in the garlic + quartered lemon and cook until aromatic, about a minute.
    Ingredients sauteing for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in a Dutch Oven.
  • Add the stock, roasted shredded chicken, orzo, and bring to a boil reduce the heat and simmer until the orzo is just tender about 10-15 minutes.
    Broth and lemon added to ingredients to finish cooking Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe.
  • Remove quartered lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix in the lemon juice, zest. Ladle into warm bowls, garnish with fresh herbs, sliced lemon and serve with crusty bread and/or a side salad.

    White bowl with a gold rim filled with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Creative Recipe Inspiration

Indulge in the comforting warmth of our Bistro Broccoli & Cheese Soup, a delightful fusion of wholesome ingredients and irresistible flavors. Crafted with tender broccoli florets simmered in a rich, creamy broth, this soup is a comforting embrace on chilly days.

Savor the bold flavors of Mexico with our Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup. This vibrant dish combines tender chicken, hearty vegetables, and authentic Mexican spices, all simmered to perfection in a savory broth. Topped with crunchy tortilla strips, creamy avocado, and zesty lime, it’s a fiesta for your taste buds!

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    Join the Conversation

    1. Great recipe and your photos are beautful. I’m so looking forward to fall and that transition to soups. Saving this for later as I’m sure it will be a go to recipe for me as I love the traditional Greek Lemon Soup.

      1. Great, Julie! I hope you love it as much as we do 🙂

    2. This soup is amazing and easy to make! I can’t wait to have it tonight!

      1. So excited to hear that you are happy with your results, Tricia! Love the photos too, thank you so much for taking the time to share your results 😀

    3. This looks like comfort in a bowl! I’m always looking for new soup recipes for my winter soup competition with friends. This looks like a winner to me! I’ll be making this soon. I love the idea of thickening it with the eggs too. Mmmm!

      1. Please do share your results if you use this in your winter soup competition, Kendra! If you thicken it with eggs it’s a more traditional Greek soup, thanks so much for visiting 🙂

    4. This looks like such a delicious dish! Unfortunately, I don’t eat chicken… But the tempering trick seems really useful!
      If I tried to pull it off and the egg curdles in my soup, do you think that’ll ruin the soup?

      1. Hi, Julie! As long as you follow the directions for tempering then you won’t have to worry about the eggs curdling. Break 2 large eggs and whisk until frothy. Slowly pour in a ladle of warm soup to the eggs, whisking briskly as you pour in a stream. (This tempers the eggs). Then slowly pour the egg mixture into the soup pot, stirring constantly as you pour until the soup is creamy and blended. It will not curdle when following these instructions. IF you did get a curdled soup, instead of having a creamy consistency it would have a somewhat “gritty” texture. certainly safe to eat, but not as pleasant as a creamy style soup.

    5. This looks delicious, I have never had Orzo before but it looks yummy! Thank you for linking up to Foodie Friday!

      1. Orzo is a fabulously versatile pasta, Paula! Thanks so much, so glad that you like the recipe and for hosting a great link party too 🙂

    6. Lemon chicken is one of my favorite recipes, I will keep this for a Crock Pot meal. #trafficjamweekend

      1. Thanks so much, Antionette! 🙂

    7. My family love soul, especially chicken soup. I have to try your recipe it sound yummy. But I have one question if I would eat the leftovers the next day. Would the orzo noodles become soggy?

      1. Hi, Lili! The Orzo does expand but does not become soggy, be sure to use a quality Orzo. You can also cook the orzo separately and add it till heated through. Hope this helps, thanks so much for visiting! 🙂

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