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Let’s add a little brightness to our day with this fabulous Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup. This is a bowl of good, clean, happy food—pure sunshine you can eat with a spoon!

A bowl of healthy lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach

Why You’ll Love This Greek-Inspired Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe

  • A Big Batch of Soup. This recipe makes 6 generous servings, but if you pair the soup with sandwiches or salad (perhaps this Greek Salad?), you can stretch it even further.
  • The Cold Weather Meal You Need in Your Life. Chicken soup 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!)
  • Chicken Noodle Soup 2.0. While this orzo soup bears some resemblance to other classic chicken and noodle soups (like this Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and its cousins Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup and this Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup), a few important additions make it taste extra special and unique. Dill adds an herbal note, while lemon makes the soup bright and sunny.
  • Meal-Worthy Soup. In addition to being light and bright, lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach is packed with veggies, lean protein, and whole grains for a hearty, nourishing meal.

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 —
a pot of easy lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach and a spoon

How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The Ingredients

  • 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.
  • 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.

Substitution Tip!

You can make this soup with chicken thighs if you prefer. Or for a shortcut, use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and stir it in towards the end.

  • 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.

Substitution Tip!

You can also make this soup with other regular or whole wheat small pasta varieties. Small shells, castellane, or ditalini would all work well. Note that different shapes have different cook times so you will need to adjust your cooking time in the recipe accordingly.

  • Spinach. An extremely nutritious addition to this soup. Baby spinach is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Market Swap!

If you’d prefer to make a lemon chicken orzo soup with kale, you can swap the spinach for kale instead. Note that kale is tougher than spinach, so you will need to simmer it for longer.

  • 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.

Market Swap

While we love this soup with dill, it is certainly not the only option. Feel free to try other fresh herbs, like fresh parsley, thyme, or oregano. If you’d like to use fresh rosemary, simmer the stems with the broth, then discard before serving. You could also add 1 to 2 bay leaves to the broth as it cooks.

The Directions

sauted vegetables in a dutch oven for orzo soup with lemon
  1. Sweat the Veggies. Sauté the carrot, celery, onion, herbs, and seasonings over medium to medium-high heat. Stir in the flour.
a steaming pot fo broth with chicken breasts
  1. Simmer. Add the chicken, and let simmer. Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a cutting board and dice or shred.
a Dutch oven filled with cooked chicken breast and vegetables ready to be shredded
  1. Add Pasta. Stir the orzo into the soup and let cook directly in the broth.
shredded chicken in a pot of steaming broth with vegetables
  1. Add the Chicken. Return the diced or shredded chicken to the pot.
a steaming pot of lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach ready to serve
  1. Finish. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until tender. ENJOY!
Two bowls of mediterranean lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach

Recipe Variations

  • Turkey Orzo Soup. This soup is a fantastic way to use leftover Thanksgiving Turkey after the holidays. Add it at the end of the cooking time.
  • Creamy Chicken Orzo Soup. Stir a can of evaporated skim milk into the soup at the end of the cooking time to make it creamy. (This is what I use to make Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup too!)
  • Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup With Parmesan. Add a Parmesan rind to the soup when you add the broth. Don’t add any salt to the recipe until the very end, then season to taste. Garnish the soup with freshly grated Parmesan.
  • Lemon Chicken Soup With Rice. Swap the orzo with quick-cooking brown rice. If using a different kind of rice, cook it separately, reduce the liquid in the soup, then stir the cooked rice in at the end; see How to Cook Brown Rice and Instant Pot Brown Rice for recipes.

Storage Tips

  • 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. Greek lemon chicken 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.

A pot of Greek lemon chicken orzo soup with vegetables

What to Serve with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Garnish With Gusto. This is a soup that’s delicious just as it is, or you can top it with a handful of Parmesan cheese and a lemon wedge for some extra brightness. Homemade croutons (like the ones in my Butternut Squash Soup Recipe) are always a treat, or add some extra protein to your bowl with Roasted Chickpeas.
  • Use an Instant-Read Thermometer. The only certain way to know precisely when your chicken is done cooking. It will also keep you from overcooking the chicken—because yes, it is possible to overcook the chicken, even in a brothy soup.
  • Let the Chicken Rest Before Shredding. Just like when you’re making Baked Chicken Breast, you’ll need to let the chicken rest before you cut or shred it for the soup.
  • Don’t Overcook the Pasta. To keep the orzo from being bloated and sad, cook it until it is barely al dente before adding the chicken back to the pot. If you bite into a piece, the outside should be tender, but the inside should be very firm. By the time you stir in the chicken, lemon juice, dill, and spinach, the orzo will be perfectly cooked.
A white bowl with chicken soup with orzo and lemon

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

4.80 from 39 votes
Healthy lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach is pure comfort! A simple one-hour chicken soup with pasta, it's full of bright lemon flavor.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Servings: 6 servings


  • 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. 


Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 315kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 33gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mgPotassium: 939mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 8256IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. My husband loves orzo so when I found this recipe my heart jumped for joy! He had three bowls when I made this! I used kale instead of spinach and it was still so yummy! Thank you for this recipe5 stars

  2. My new favorite soup recipie! My hubby loved it too! We did down the broth to 4 cups, as we like our soup thicker, but other than that followed the recipie. So yummy!5 stars

  3. My new favorite soup! My hubby loved it too! Downed the chicken broth to 4 cups because we like our soup on the thick side and used shredded rotisserie chicken to save time, but other than that, followed the recipie. So yummy!5 stars

  4. Made this soup again (made it last year) and it was delicious! Family loved it, healthy, lite, and comforting.5 stars

    1. Hi Michelle, I honestly would not recommend adding egg. That would not be a good substitute for the flour. You could try cornstarch instead.

  5. I’m sure the flavor is probably better in the original method. I did it in the slow cooker and just wasn’t impressed… it kinda tasted like glorified chicken noodle soup. Not bad, just not great either. I really like Erin’s other recipes though. :)3 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste, LRB. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed it, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too!

  6. Taste like pasta water with a hint of lemon and dill. I’d suggest cooking the orzo separately and then add it to the soup after! So disappointed!1 star

    1. I’m sorry to hear this wasn’t to your taste, Cali. You should definitely not have that result based on the flavor profile in this recipe. The 6-8 cups of broth is more than enough flavoring, plus the seasonings, the roux that was made and the flavor the chicken adds to the soup. I would make sure to really spend time on step 1 and 2. As said in the recipe it helps build the flavor and helps the garlic get fragrant. Hope this helps!

  7. This soup was easy to make and delicious! My 86 year old mom no longer cooks, so I’m always looking for recipes that are healthy, easy to make and can be put in the freezer. My mom said this soup tasted comforting. I’ll definitely be making it again. I really appreciate the recipes with freezer instructions because I’m not always sure what will freeze well. Thank you!5 stars

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