The Best Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is chock-full of vegetables, orzo pasta, shredded chicken, and fresh herbs. Turn to it for an easy one-pot, 30-minute meal for weeknight dinners, or enjoy it as a healthy meal prep option!Jump to Recipe
Bright and creamy chicken orzo soup
This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup takes everyday chicken noodle soup to the next level. With a close resemblance to my Lemon Chicken and Orzo Pasta, this soup is easy to make in one pot and is packed with all of the comfort foods that your family loves.
The noodles from classic chicken soup are swapped for rice-like orzo pasta in this recipe. From there, it’s loaded with a medley of fresh vegetables, rotisserie chicken, and herbs, then finished with refreshing lemon juice and dill. A splash of heavy cream and grated parmesan cheese are the finishing touches on this ultimate comfort food!
The ingredients in chicken orzo soup are fairly simple, but it’s the store-bought rotisserie chicken that keeps this recipe as quick and easy as possible. Here’s what you need:
- Olive oil
- Onion, carrots, and celery – These veggies give the soup a savory baseline of flavor.
- Kosher salt
- Thyme – Use fresh thyme if you can.
- Bay leaves – Remember to discard the bay leaves once the soup is ready!
- Orzo – This small, rice-like pasta is perfect in soups, stews, and one-pot dishes. If you don’t have orzo, replace it with rice, quinoa, or another short pasta noodle.
- Chicken stock – While this is the best option, you can use vegetable broth instead if that’s what you already have at home.
- Shredded chicken – This recipe is quick and easy because it’s made with shredded, store-bought rotisserie chicken.
- Kale – Or you can use spinach or the leafy greens of your choice.
- Lemon juice – The freshly squeezed lemon juice is stirred into the soup at the end to give it a bright and zesty flavor that helps to balance the stronger savory elements.
- Heavy whipping cream – This is added at the end, giving the soup a luxurious creamy texture.
- Dill – Fresh dill is best! If you don’t have dill at home, swap it for extra thyme or fresh parsley.
How to make lemon chicken orzo soup
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery once it’s hot, and cook until they’re soft. Finish with garlic and thyme.
Stir the orzo into the pot and allow it to toast for 1 minute. Afterward, pour in the chicken stock and add the bay leaf.
Bring the soup up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Once the orzo is al dente, add the shredded chicken and kale. Cook until the kale leaves wilt and the chicken is warmed through.
Turn off the heat. Discard the bay leaf, then stir in the lemon juice, cream, and dill. Adjust the flavors as needed, then serve and enjoy!
Tips and variations
- If you want to make this with raw chicken, cook the chicken in the stock for 12 to 15 minutes, then transfer it to a plate. Add the orzo and leave it to cook until al dente. Add the chicken back into the pot along with the kale, and continue the recipe as normal.
- Is the soup not thick enough? Thin it out by adding an extra 2 cups of broth.
- You can add up to 1 tablespoon of lemon zest for an even brighter pop of lemon flavor.
- No orzo at home? No problem. Use any other short-cut pasta you already have on hand.
Lemon slices will give the bowls of chicken soup an enticing presentation and a stronger lemon flavor. You could also use more dill, grated parmesan cheese, or green onions as a garnish.
Chicken and orzo soup is filling enough to enjoy on its own (or with a slice of sourdough or homemade focaccia) or you can serve it with healthy side dishes for a well-balanced meal. I suggest pairing it with Tomato and Onion Salad, Chopped Greek Salad, or Roasted Cauliflower.
Can you make it ahead of time?
Yes, but I recommend cooking the orzo and soup separately, as the pasta will soak up the liquid as it sits. Just add the cooked orzo into the soup when it’s time to reheat the leftovers.
To store: Refrigerate the soup in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
To freeze: Orzo soup does freeze well. Keep the leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
To reheat: Warm the leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
Looking for more comforting soups to try?
- Easy Creamy Lasagna Soup – An Italian-inspired soup that tastes just like classic lasagna.
- Chicken Tortilla Soup – The perfect 30-minute soup that always warms you up on cold days.
- Sausage Tortellini Soup – A hearty and comforting meal loaded with sausage, tortellini, herbs, kale, and cream.
- Chicken and Dumplings Soup – Homemade drop dumplings simmered in a comforting, herbaceous chicken soup.
Did you try the Best Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below and giving this recipe a rating! Don’t forget to take a picture tag me on Instagram or use #lenaskitchenblog to be featured in my stories! I love seeing what you come up with!
Best Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 2 celery ribs diced
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 ½ tablespoons kosher salt more to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves only
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup orzo pasta uncooked
- 6-8 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 4 cups rotisserie chicken shredded
- 2 ½ ounces baby kale
- 1 lemon juiced (about ¼ cup juice)
- ¾ cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill finely chopped
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Let cook until the vegetables soften and are beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir often not to burn.
- Add garlic, salt and thyme, and cook for another 1 minute.
- Add orzo and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Then add 6 cups chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 8 minutes. Tip: Add the other 2 cups of broth if you like your soup more brothy.
- Add shredded chicken and kale and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, remove the bay leaves, add lemon juice (zest if using), heavy cream and dill. Stir to combine. Taste, adjust the salt if needed. You can also sprinkle in some freshly grated parmesan for a cheesy flavor.
- Spoon into a bowl and enjoy while hot. Serve with bread or on its own.
- 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.
- Pro tip: If you really want a more intense pop of lemon in here, I suggest grating in some lemon zest. You can also increase the amount of lemon juice to suit your tastes and serve it with lemon slices right in the bowls as well.
- Make ahead: Yes, but you may not want to use the one-pot method in that case since the orzo will soak up the broth over time. If you plan on having a lot left over or are making it well ahead of time, I recommend cooking the orzo separately and adding it into each bowl when warming it up.