Let’s add a little brightness to our day with this fabulous Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup!
This is a bowl of good, clean, healthy, happy food.
- Every flavorful bite makes me feel alive and nourished, and it comes together in a flash (like my favorite Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup).
- It’s light, bright, and packed with veggies, lean protein, and whole grains.
- With this array of nutritious ingredients, the lemon chicken orzo soup calories stay low without sacrificing any of the vibrant flavors.
- It will fill and warm you to your core, without weighing you down, and the leftovers are just as tasty as the day you make it. (This Chicken Stew is another that reheats like a dream!)
This soup is the sort of cozy midday pick-me-up I long for in the middle of a weekday (this Chicken Tortilla Soup is another quick weekday favorite).
It’s hearty enough to satisfy me on a chilly evening and tasty enough to serve to guests too (especially with a side of Beer Bread).
5 Star Review
“Since our weather was a bit chilly today I decided to make this in my crockpot. It turned out amazing. The fresh dill was such a perfect touch of flavor.”— Kacie —
How to Make Chicken Orzo Lemon Soup
While this soup bears some resemblance to other classic chicken and noodle soups (like this Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup and this Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup), a few important additions make it taste extra special and unique.
- Carrots + Celery + Onion. This all-important trio builds the soup’s flavor right from the start. This classic combo is also the base for my favorite Chicken Wild Rice Soup.
- Dried Basil. Basil pairs beautifully with the bright flavors in this soup.
- All-Purpose Flour. To help thicken the soup and make it a more creamy lemon chicken orzo soup (without the need for actual cream).
- Chicken Broth. The savory, comforting, and nutritious liquid base. Use low-sodium chicken broth to better control the seasoning.
Homemade chicken stock is of course wonderful, but if you don’t have time (I rarely do) don’t sweat it. This soup has plenty of other excellent flavors going on, so (as Ina would say) store bought is fine.
- Chicken Breasts. Tender, perfectly-cooked chicken breasts are scrumptious in this soup (and this Baked Lemon Chicken recipe). Plus, chicken adds oodles of filling and lean protein.
- Orzo. A small, quick-cooking pasta that looks similar to rice. It’s undeniably tasty and ideal for soups (and Shrimp Orzo with Lemon and Asparagus). I used whole wheat orzo for the added health benefits. Orzo pasta does get mushy in soup if it’s cooked too long, so it’s important to follow the cooking times listed and not let it overcook.
- Spinach. An extremely nutritious addition to this soup. Baby spinach is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Lemon Juice. This chicken soup does have lemon, and you do not want to skip it! A generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice wakes up the flavors and makes the soup incredibly refreshing and almost cleansing. For even more citrus flavor, add a little lemon zest.
- Fresh Dill. A handful of fresh dill pairs perfectly with the lemon and makes the soup herbaceous and lively.
- Sauté the carrot, celery, onion, herbs, and seasonings over medium to medium-high heat. Stir in the flour.
- Add the chicken, and let simmer. Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a cutting board and dice or shred.
- Stir the orzo into the soup and let cook directly in the broth.
Note that if you swap the whole wheat pasta for regular orzo, it tends to cook faster.
- Add the chicken back to the pot.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until tender. ENJOY!
For serving, enjoy your soup just as is, or top it with a handful of Parmesan cheese. Garnish with lemon wedges.
- To Store. Refrigerate soup in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Orzo soup can be frozen. Freeze soup in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Plan Tip
Chop the carrots, celery, and onion up to 1 day in advance, and store them in the refrigerator.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. Perfect for making this creamy lemon chicken soup.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. This cutting board won’t slip away from you while you’re chopping.
- Instant Read Thermometer. The best way to ensure your chicken is cooked through.
This lemon chicken orzo soup is like pure sunshine in a bowl, and it’s ready to brighten your day!
Frequently Asked Questions
To make a crockpot lemon chicken orzo soup using this recipe, lightly coat a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the chicken in the bottom, then season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and basil. Pour the chicken broth over the top. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes on HIGH or 4 to 6 hours on LOW. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred or chop, then return to the slow cooker along with the orzo. Turn the heat to high and let cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add the spinach, lemon juice, and dill. Cover and continue cooking on high for 5 additional minutes, just until the spinach wilts. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
I have not personally made this soup in the Instant Pot, however other readers have reported success doing so with this method: Turn your Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Add oil, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and basil. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the chicken breasts, broth, salt, and pepper. Close the Instant Pot lid with the pressure valve to set to sealing. Pressure cook on high for 6-8 minutes. Allow the natural pressure to release then open the Instant Pot. Remove and shred the chicken then return to the pot. Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode again and add the orzo. Simmer until the orzo is tender, then stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and dill. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
No. For food safety reasons, I do not recommend preparing this recipe with frozen chicken. For best results, always start with chicken that is completely thawed.
To make a lemon chicken orzo soup gluten free, you will want to omit the flour in favor of a gluten free flour alternative (or cornstarch). Then, swap the whole wheat orzo for gluten free pasta or rice. For each of these, I recommend cooking them according to the package directions separately and then stirring them into the soup at the very end to make sure they have a nice texture.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium carrots peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 medium celery stalks diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 small yellow onion finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 6 to 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup uncooked whole wheat orzo (see note)
- 3 cups roughly chopped spinach loosely packed about 3 ounces
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1 medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, basil, salt, and pepper. Let cook until the vegetables soften and are beginning to brown, about 8 minutes (don’t rush this step; it builds important flavor).
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir until it disappears. Pour in 6 cups of the chicken broth and stir to combine. The flour should be completely dissolved.
- Carefully lower the chicken into the broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and let gently simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Check the soup periodically to make sure you are maintaining a gentle simmer vs. a rapid boil.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cover. Let rest for at least 5 minutes.
- Return the soup to a simmer, then stir in the orzo. Continue to simmer for 7 additional minutes, stirring periodically to keep the orzo from sticking, until the orzo is very al dente (it should be nearing done but still be too firm to eat).
- Dice or shred the chicken, then add it to the pot.
- Stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and dill. If you desire a thinner soup, add the remaining 1 to 2 cups of chicken broth, until the soup is to your liking. Continue to simmer and stir periodically for 3 to 5 additional minutes, until the spinach wilts and the orzo is al dente. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy warm.
- INGREDIENT NOTE: You can also make this soup with other regular or whole wheat small pasta varieties, such as small shells, castellane, or ditalini. Reference the cooking time on the box and adjust your cooking time in the recipe as needed.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Orzo soup can be frozen. Freeze soup in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- TO MAKE IN A SLOW COOKER: Lightly coat a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the chicken in the bottom, then season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and basil. Pour the chicken broth over the top. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes on HIGH or 4 to 6 hours on LOW. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred or chop, then return to the slow cooker along with the orzo. Turn the heat to high and let cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add the spinach, lemon juice, and dill. Cover and continue cooking on high for 5 additional minutes, just until the spinach wilts. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
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