This easy chicken orzo soup recipe is the perfect comfort food for cold nights. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, and they come together in less than 30 minutes all in ONE POT. The key to flavorful and rich soup is a good quality chicken stock! And leftover cooked chicken is a nice shortcut to a satisfying meal in minutes! This soup isn’t overly lemon-y. If you want more lemon tang, feel free to add more for an extra citrus kick!
Be sure to scroll past the recipe for step-by-step photos and additional helpful information.
This easy chicken orzo soup recipe is a perfect comfort food for cold nights. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, and they come together for a satisfying meal in less than 30 minutes.
If you’ve never cooked with orzo before, this recipe is an easy introduction. Or if you’ve cooked with orzo many times, you’ll quickly realize that this soup is one of the best ways to enjoy it.
What is Chicken Orzo Soup?
Although it looks like rice, orzo is pasta. Orzo is a little pasta commonly used in soups and salads. It takes 8 – 10 minutes to cook and can be found in the pasta aisle at the grocery store.
For more about orzo and other types of pasta, check out our Pasta 101 Guide.
Is orzo pasta healthy?
The health benefits of orzo include that it’s high in protein and fiber. And because orzo is usually used in soups with meat/vegetables or in cold salads, it’s generally part of a nutritious meal.
How do you keep orzo from sticking together?
Orzo, like other pastas, will stick together if cooked for too long. To keep orzo from sticking together, make sure to cook it for the recommended time. And if you find that your orzo is still sticking together, try adding a dab of olive oil as you cook it.
What is orzo soup made of?
Most commonly, orzo soup is made of orzo cooked in stock with vegetables and meat. This specific recipe is a greek-inspired mediterranean Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup. It’s loaded with vegetables, chicken, orzo, herbs, and chicken stock.
Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup Ingredients
- Vegetables – Onion, carrots, and celery are the base of this soup. Sautéing these three ingredients is called mirepoix.
- Seasoning – I like to use dried thyme, oregano, and garlic to season the soup. Feel free to use any of your favorite dried herbs.
- Chicken stock – I always keep homemade chicken stock in my freezer. But when I’m out, a jar of “better than bouillion” chicken soup base comes to the rescue!!
- Chicken – Use leftover rotisserie chicken to save time. If using raw chicken breast, be sure to cook the soup longer to fully cook the chicken.
- Orzo – Though it looks like rice, orzo is actually pasta!
- Lemon is the secret sauce!!! It instantly enhances and brightens the flavor of the soup.
One of the best parts of this recipe is that it’s a simple, one-pan dish. You’ll add all of the ingredients to a Dutch oven and allow the flavors to mix. The final result is a tasty, hearty soup.
Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe Tips & Tricks
USE PRE-COOKED CHICKEN
Don’t forget that this recipe calls for 8 ounces of cooked, shredded chicken. This means that you’ll need to cook a chicken breast before you make your soup. My Instant Pot frozen chicken breast is a great way to meal prep in advance.
You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken in this dish to save time. Or you can use raw chicken, but be sure to cook it with the vegetables in the first step of this recipe.
ADJUST THE LEMON
This recipe has a hint of lemon. It uses the zest and juice of 1 lemon. But if you want more lemon tang, feel free to add more for an extra citrus kick!
For a flavorful stock, Instant Pot Chicken Stock is a popular choice. This is a rich and tasty option that can be made in your Instant Pot in half the time that it takes to make stock on a stovetop.
Or skip the homemade stock and try Better Than Bouillon. I love the convenience of these and always keep an emergency stash in my pantry!
How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Step 1. Saute the vegetables
- Step 2. Add stock and bring it to a boil.
- Step 3. Stir in orzo and cook until tender.
- Step 4. Add lemon juice and season to taste. And serve!
Mediterranean Chicken Orzo Soup Variations
If you don’t have one of the ingredients on hand, don’t fear — most ingredients in this recipe can also be substituted. Here’s the most popular substitutions:
- Herbs: this recipe calls for dried oregano and thyme. If you don’t have these herbs, you can use Italian Seasoning instead.
- Orzo: instead of orzo, you can use a spiral pasta and this soup will still taste delicious. Or — instead of pasta — use quinoa. Just be sure to cook your substitute for the recommended time on its package.
How to serve Chicken Orzo Soup
Serve this soup with some hearty bread. For example, sliced sourdough bread nicely complements all the elements of this Mediterranean chicken orzo soup.
Storing and Reheating Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup
Can you make this chicken orzo soup ahead of time?
Because it’s simple and tasty, once you try this soup recipe it will quickly become a weekly staple! And even better: you can prepare the ingredients ahead of time and freeze any leftovers. Here’s how:
You can prepare the ingredients ahead of time so that when you’re ready for dinner all you need to do is mix them together.
Cook your shredded chicken, orzo, and vegetables ahead of time, all separately. And then when you’re ready to eat, heat these items along with the herbs, stock, and lemon until warm.
Can you freeze this soup?
Yes! This is a great recipe to freeze. Freeze any leftovers in an airtight container or heavy duty ziplock bag.
When you’re ready to enjoy your leftovers, reheat them in a large pot or Dutch Oven on your stove.
Chicken Orzo Soup FAQs
Orzo expands about twice its size when cooking.
Lemon enhances the flavor of the soup. If the soup tastes somewhat flat, even though you’ve salted it well, try adding a little lemon juice. The flavor will instantly pop up!
Orzo cooks in about 10 minutes.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! Let me know once you’ve tried it by leaving a comment below or sharing a photo and tagging @busy_cooks on Instagram!
Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion optional
- 2 carrots peeled and diced (about 1 cup diced)
- 2 celery ribs chopped (about ½ cup chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 8-10 cups chicken stock Note 1
- 1 cup 6oz uncooked orzo pasta
- 8 oz cooked chicken breast 2-3 cups shredded chicken (Note 2)
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves optional
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add oil.
- When oil is hot, add onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté the vegetables until mostly tender, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in garlic, salt, thyme and oregano and cook for another minute or two.
- Add stock and bring it to a boil.
- Add orzo and cook until orzo is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in chicken, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon zest, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until chicken is heated through, about 3 minutes.
- Add more lemon juice to taste, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste as well. Remove from heat and serve with fresh parsley, if desired.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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