Let’s add a little brightness to our day with this fabulous Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup!

A bowl of healthy lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach

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

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).

Two bowls of mediterranean lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach

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.


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 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.

TIP!

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.

A pot of Greek lemon chicken orzo soup with vegetables
  • 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. 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. 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. Stir the orzo into the soup and let cook directly in the broth.

TIP!

Note that if you swap the whole wheat pasta for regular orzo, it tends to cook faster.

shredded chicken in a pot of steaming broth with vegetables
  1. Add the chicken back to the pot.
a steaming pot of lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach ready to serve
  1. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until tender. ENJOY!

Tip!

For serving, enjoy your soup just as is, or top it with a handful of Parmesan cheese. Garnish with lemon wedges.

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. 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 white bowl with chicken soup with orzo and lemon

What to Serve with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Dutch Oven

A classic, high-quality Dutch oven is a must-have kitchen tool. It’s ideal for making soups, casseroles, stews, and so much more!

A bowl of healthy lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach

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Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

This lemon chicken orzo soup is like pure sunshine in a bowl, and it’s ready to brighten your day!

Frequently Asked Questions

How I Make A Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Slow Cooker Recipe?

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. 

How Can I Make a Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Instant Pot Recipe?

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. 

Can I Make This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe with Frozen Chicken?

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.

Can I Make Lemon Chicken Soup Gluten Free?

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.

A bowl of healthy lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

4.92 from 25 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 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 1 hr

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

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 wellplated.com 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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65 Comments

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  1. Hi Erin,
    After years of cooking when my children were growing up, I took a semi-hiatus when the last one headed off to college. :) You are making me want to cook again! This soup is delicious – so fresh and tasty with just the right tang from the lemon. I loved it and love reading your blog.! Thank you.5 stars

    1. Diana, I’m so glad you loved the soup! Thank YOU for reading my blog and for taking the time to let me know how the soup turned out.

  2. I love the barenof the soup – especially adding fresh dill. However, we need more spices – I tried smoked paprika for a bowl, any other suggestions?  My husband added more spices for him. Do you have any other suggestions?  Nice soup! I’ll make it again for sure! 5 stars

    1. Judy, I’m so happy that you and your husband enjoyed the soup! It’s not really meant to be spicy, it’s more like a chicken noodle, but if you want more flavor, adding additional fresh herbs like basil could be a nice way to give it another level of flavor. For heat, a pinch of red pepper flakes always does the trick too!

  3. I made this soup today- 02/18/2017- and it was just as delicious as your picture looked! ( and it did look like your pic) I thought all the spinach would be too much- not one bit. Awesome. The flavor bonanza was wonderful.
    The only thing I did not like was that the orzo was somewhat overcooked at 4 hours. Next time I’ll only cook it for 3 hours and see how that does. My husband is a big soup fan and loved it, also.

    I got this recipe from YUMMLY! Thank you for a great crockpot meal!5 stars

    1. Hi Jennifer! I’m so glad you and your husband loved the soup! If you didn’t care for the texture of the orzo after 4 hours, then your idea to put it in a little later is a great one. Thanks so much for reporting back!

  4. Made this tonight– so yummy!! Only thing was the orzo cooked quicker than the chicken…maybe cook one separately? I still happily gulped it down!5 stars

    1. Hi Katherine! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the soup. If the orzo finished cooking before the chicken and you didn’t care for the texture, I would suggest just adding the a little later on in the process. Thanks so much for trying the recipe and letting me know how it went!

  5. Very good soup! I did find it to be a bit too lemony (I think 1/4 cup of lemon juice would do), but overall good!5 stars

    1. Hi Victoria! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the soup! Reducing the amount of lemon juice is the perfect option if you prefer a little less lemon flavor. Thanks for reporting back on how the recipe turned out!

  6. Hi Dana, it sounds like the orzo was done closer to the 4-hour mark. I do recommend using whole wheat orzo for the best texture, and it’s helpful to check the slow cooker on the early side of the ranges given. I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor, and if you do give the recipe another try, I hope the tweak will get the orzo texture more to your liking!

  7. I also have the mushy orzo problem…and I’m only just over 3 hours on low in my crockpot. It smells delicious, but looks like we’ll have chicken and a spinach salad instead. It’s way too mushy to eat :( Where do you buy your whole wheat orzo? I haven’t been able to find it so did use regular. 

    1. Hi Laura, I buy whole wheat orzo at my regular grocery store (the Delallo brand). I’m sorry to hear you ran into a problem with mushy orzo. I’ve now added a recipe note to clarify this, but regular orzo will definitely be done faster than whole wheat called for in the recipe, so if you make the swap, you’ll want to add it later on in the process. If you try it again, I hope that’ll do the trick.

  8. After reading several comments referencing mushy orzo I decided to cook mine separately and add it to the Crock Pot just before serving. I used DeLallo regular as my store does not stock the whole wheat version. The soup was delicious and the orzo was cooked perfectly! My 2 year old granddaughter gave it a two thumbs up! I will definitely prepare this again. Thank you!5 stars

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the soup, Candise! Thank you so much for reporting back and sharing your tip about cooking the orzo separately. That’s definitely an good option if you’re concerned about the texture and aren’t able to find a whole wheat version!

  9. Made this soup for dinner tonight and it was so wonderful. I did make it stove top and that worked out fine. I happened to have barley in the pantry so I used that instead of the orzo. It worked out great. My husband loved this soup too and I will definitely make it again.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Patty! Barley sounds like it would be delicious in the soup. Thank you for taking the time to share your tweaks and for leaving this lovely review!

  10. I remade this because I wasn’t ready to give up on it and it turned out delicious! I cooked everything on the crockpot and just cooked the orzo separate and poured it in at the end. Even my picky 6yr old cleaned her bowl. 5 stars

  11. Very tasty! If you’re like me and are using reconstituted lemon juice instead of squeezing a lemon, maybe 1/4 cup instead of a 1/3 cup. Otherwise, extremely good and very easy!5 stars

  12. Yummm! My son went back for thirds! . I am on a diet..or change of diet with less carbs and clean foods. I made this in a smaller crockpot with 4 cups of broth. No rice but used garlic and herb seasoning. (Has basil in it) and soften the onions with some celery. Every thing else same as recipe but made it with two garlic cloves and one tablespoon dill. It’s perfect. Just delicious as it is.

    Thank You!5 stars

    1. Sherry, thank you so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review and share your tweaks. I’m so glad to hear it was a hit!

  13. So thrilled to have found your blog as I also live in Milwaukee! 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. Thanks for the recipe :) 5 stars

    1. Kacie, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the soup! Thanks so much for taking the time to try it out and report back. :)

  14. I am looking to make this in a crockpot for an after church potluck lunch. Do you suggest cooking ahead of time and then reheating or trying to time it so that it is ready by lunchtime since I won’t be able to check on it periodically while its cooking if I time it to be ready by noon. Can’t wait to try this!

    1. Hi Emily! If you don’t mind the pasta being a little overly soft, I think it would be OK to reheat (the pasta softens when it’s reheated). Otherwise, I’d try to time it to be done at noon if you can. I hope you all enjoy it!

  15. I made bone broth chicken as a base and then made the soup in about one hour (the bone broth chicken tskes 24-48 hrs) several times.
    Delish!! I also used sweet potatoes or regular potatoes instead of orzo as well.5 stars

    1. WHOO HOOO! I am so happy and excited to hear that Carol. Thanks for taking time to leave this wonderful review.

  16. I love the flavor of this soup, so perfect for a fall day! However, I followed the directions and my carrots turned out super hard at the end… any idea why this happened?5 stars

    1. Hi Annick, it may be that the carrots pieces were on the bigger side and didn’t have enough time to cook through. I’d try cutting them slightly smaller next time. I hope that helps, and I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor of the soup!

    1. Hi Laura, I’m sorry, but I don’t have tips to offer in the case of this recipe, especially since pasta can be more particular. If you play around, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  17. The only modification I made to this was using ditalini pasta instead of orzo. When everything else was done I added the noodles for 10 minutes and it was WONDERFUL. So warm and cozy and fresh. 5 stars

  18. This looks delicious! I can’t wait to try…do you have any recommendations to substitute the orzo if wanting a gluten free option?

    1. Hi Nikki! While I have not tried the recipe this way, you could experiment with gluten free orzo or rice. For each of these, I recommend cooking them according to the package directions, and then stirring them into the soup at the very end. If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  19. I adapted this recipe to the Instant Pot and it is awesome! Only recipe change was reducing the broth to 6 cups.

    1. Turn Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Add oil, carrots, celery, onion, garlic and basil. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add chicken breasts, broth, salt and pepper and give a quick stir.

    2. Close Instant Pot lid with pressure valve to sealing. Pressure cook (HI) for 8 minutes for 2 whole chicken breasts (6 mins for 4 chicken breasts pieces). Allow natural pressure release or quick release after 5 minute NPR.

    3. Open the Instant Pot. Take the Chicken Breasts out and shred them with a a fork.

    4. Set Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Add orzo and shredded chicken. Cook for 6-7 mins or until the orzo is cooked.

    5. Add spinach, lemon juice and dill and stir everything together. Turn the Instant Pot off.

    6. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy warm.5 stars

  20. Thank you! This soup is the best, I make it often. Our gym friends gather around Valentine’s Day for a soup luncheon. They always want this soup because it’s so healthy and delicious, I do use rice instead of orzo as one person is gluten intolerant. The lemon and dill are so important. I have even tempered an egg and whisked it in to make it richer.
    People even bring containers to take some home. I make in my instant pot instead of slow cooker and goes together fast.5 stars

  21. I made this recipe and my family liked it but I did add some lemon pepper because it tasted very bland with out it. I will make it again.4 stars

  22. So delicious! My mom requested this soup as her “Welcome Home” meal after being released from hospital. It was my first time making this and it came out perfect! My mom even said mine was better than hers! The spinach is a nice added touch. I also added some fresh parsley and lemon zest.5 stars

  23. Just made this tonight. I followed the recipe exactly and it was perfect! Thankyou for this!! Will definitely make it again in the future.5 stars

  24. Made this last night and it was delicious and easy. I used rotisserie chicken and WW orzo. I found I needed some extra broth. The next time I make this I will probably add a bit more lemon juice – personal preference – I like lemon.5 stars

  25. Wonderful recipe! Followed directions exactly and took the suggestion of only adding 6 cups of broth for a bit thicker soup. Loved it!4 stars