Easy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is pure comfort in a bowl! It’s a hearty soup that uses everyday ingredients. This lemony tasty soup will become a family favorite!
One of the greatest things you can make to enhance a meal is a simple and delicious soup. You can turn any sandwich or lackluster entree into a full and satisfying meal when you make a good soup to go along with it. We find that our easy lemon chicken orzo soup goes perfectly with just about anything and it’s so simple to make. Here is just a little bit of background about what goes into this dish and why it’s such a great recipe to have when mealtime is looking a little light.
Lemony Chicken Soup
What gives this soup that little extra flavor is lemon of course. Years ago when I first hear of a chicken soup with lemon in it I was skeptical. But let me tell you…SO good! It is versatile in the sense that you can use chicken breast or chicken thighs. whatever you have on hand will work. Our freezer is always stocked with both so whatever we grab we use.
Mirepoix For Easy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
The base for this easy lemon chicken orzo soup comes from an old standard. Cook carrots, celery and onion together for an aromatic potpourri that starts the dish off right. For more flavor, add four cloves of garlic as well. This is the foundation of the perfect soup and it only takes a few minutes to get things started before building on this layer with the next.
The right blend of vegetables coupled with the perfect variety of herbs and spices definitely helps to ensure that the soup will be flavorful on top of the irresistible scent that will undoubtedly fill your kitchen.
You could also call this mixture sofrito. It means the same thing, the terms just come from different countries. Wherever you cook this combination of onions, celery, and carrots in butter it is generally accepted as the secret sauce that makes soup, stew, casserole and other such dishes taste amazing!
This recipe may seem like it has a lot of ingredients but it really doesn’t! Five of them are spices which we always have in our pantry and five are vegetables. When we cook we pull everything out on the counter. It makes things so much easier.
- olive oil
- chicken thighs or chicken breasts
- dried rosemary
- dried marjoram
- dried thyme
- Bay Leaves
- Chicken stock
- lemon juice
**See the recipe card at the end of the post for quantities and cooking times.
Making this soup is so easy. As I said pull everything out and you will find cooking and baking so much easier.
Pour oil into a dutch oven and add all vegetables except spinach. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium, just until the vegetables start to soften.
Add chicken, seasonings, and bay leaves to the pot and pour stock over top. Bring to a boil and cook on high until chicken is cooked thoroughly (about 20 minutes). Remove chicken thighs and set aside.
Add orzo and cook to desired doneness. While orzo cooks, use two forks to shred the chicken.
Return heat to medium and add spinach, lemon juice, and shredded chicken to the pot. Cook just until spinach is wilted. Serve immediately. (check recipe card for recipe tips)
Another key component to this soup is the orzo pasta. It has to be. It’s part of the name. Lemon chicken orzo soup gets much of its unique quality from the orzo pasta itself. Although many different types of pasta prove suitable for a soup like this one, none quite have the same appeal as the tiny little rice-like grains of orzo.
What we love best about this pasta for soup is that unlike rotini, shells, or other standards, the pasta never interferes with the rest of the ingredients when you gather up a spoonful. You never have to worry about that dreadful splash whenever a piece of pasta can’t quite stay put with the other ingredients as you go in for a bite. Orzo is a safe and friendly choice, for anybody who struggles to get that perfect mouthful of delicious hearty soup.
Orzo does a great job of completing the soup by adding a hearty pasta element, but you can also play with the ratios and make more pasta with less broth. The result is like the most amazing rice-like side dish that can complement almost any entree.
Two-Stage Soup: Making Easy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Ahead
This soup is easy to make in a pinch and takes hardly more time than just cooking up a can of Campbell’s. It’s a solid solution for making a simple, preservative-free, and healthful soup for your homemade meal without buying anything premade just to reheat it. However, there is no reason you can’t make a larger batch of the soup and save it, or make the soup early to heat it back up later. This is completely doable if your schedule requires it. It’s also a good thing to keep in mind if you want to keep several servings on hand for future meals with the same soup.
However, you shouldn’t just cook up the whole soup and start storing the leftovers. That will be a problem for the orzo which will lose its composition and quickly deteriorate. Instead, you ought to stop cooking before you add the orzo and freeze what you want to. The orzo should be added later, just prior to serving. This goes for freezing batches of lemon chicken orzo soup for later, or if you are simply making the soup ahead of time .
You can also freeze the Mirepoix for later, but be aware that the onion and celery will not hold up as well as the carrots. Freezing the soup without the orzo is very easy and you don’t have to worry about the soup losing it’s terrific flavor. The best thing about this soup is the incredible shredded chicken and the perfectly cooked Orzo, which is the only thing you will have to add upon reheating the soup. If you want to, you can cook the orzo pasta separately while reheating the soup or just prior. This will help to keep the other ingredients in the soup from getting mushy while the orzo cooks.
This recipe calls for your choice of white or dark meat, but it assumes you will be using boneless skinless chicken thighs. The alternative is chicken breast. If you choose thighs, the recipe calls for three. If you choose breasts, the recipe calls for only two. Obviously, thighs are less expensive than breasts are, which is part of the reason I prefer them over the white meat option. However, I know there are some who only like to eat white meat and nothing else. For them, boneless skinless chicken breasts are a good alternative.
Another reason I chose to use thighs for my lemon chicken orzo soup is the flavor, which I think is just better. Whatever you choose to cook with, the most important thing is how you shred the meat to get the best texture and mouthfeel from every wholesome bite of this tasty soup.
You will be able to fork pull your chicken with relative ease after following the cooking instructions for the chicken. All it takes is one fork to pin the chicken down. And another fork to claw at it until it comes apart in shreds. You will see the layers of meat start to separate as you pull when you go with the grain.
If you would like to make softer chicken try breaking it down more slowly by cooking it in some broth with a crockpot. or a dutch oven on low to medium heat for a few hours. This will make the chicken more tender, but it will not blend as well with the other flavors in the soup, since the ingredients will not be cooked together.
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Easy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 chicken thighs, boneless skinless or 2 chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 4 cups Chicken stock
- ½ cup orzo
- 3 cups Spinach
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- Pour oil into a dutch oven and add all vegetables except spinach. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium, just until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add chicken, seasonings, and bay leaves to the pot and pour stock over top. Bring to a boil and cook on high until chicken is cooked thoroughly (about 20 minutes). Remove chicken thighs and set aside.
- Add orzo and cook to desired doneness. While orzo cooks, use two forks to shred the chicken.
- Return heat to medium and add spinach, lemon juice, and shredded chicken to the pot. Cook just until spinach is wilted. Serve immediately.
- If making ahead, don’t add orzo until the day you will be serving.
- This soup freezes well, but spinach and orzo should not be added before freezing.