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!
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 —
How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 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.
- 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.
- Sweat the Veggies. Sauté the carrot, celery, onion, herbs, and seasonings over medium to medium-high heat. Stir in the flour.
- Simmer. Add the chicken, and let simmer. Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a cutting board and dice or shred.
- Add Pasta. Stir the orzo into the soup and let cook directly in the broth.
- Add the Chicken. Return the diced or shredded chicken to the pot.
- Finish. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until tender. ENJOY!
- 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.
- 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.
What to Serve with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Bread. Keep it cozy with this Beer Bread Recipe, or work with the Mediterranean flavors in this dish and pair it with Rosemary Olive Oil Bread or No Knead Focaccia.
- Sandwiches. If your standard You Pick Two order is soup and a sandwich, try pairing your lemon chicken orzo soup with Air Fryer Grilled Cheese or a Chickpea Salad Sandwich.
- Salad. More in the mood for salad? Try my Arugula Salad for a recipe that comes together in a snap, or Green Goddess Salad for something more substantive.
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.
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.
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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