A classic chicken soup recipe that you can make start to finish in under an hour. Fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon add a light and fresh flavor to this lemon orzo chicken soup recipe. Chicken thighs add even more flavor to a comfort food favorite. Make a double batch so you’ll always have some in your freezer.
A Cozy, Easy to Make Lemon Orzo Soup Recipe
Create everyone’s favorite soup by sauteing onions and celery in a Dutch oven and then adding chicken thighs and broth. Boil it until the chicken is done to create the most flavorful soup. Add the pasta to the broth to cook then add fresh dill and a little lemon at the end.
You can have a warm and cozy bowl of orzo soup from scratch in less than an hour with plenty of leftovers and only one pot to wash! It’s a comforting chicken soup both kids and adults will enjoy.
What makes this soup a favorite is the flavor that is built in layers while it cooks. The celery and onions form a base, but by cooking the chicken in broth, you get even more chicken flavor. Then the orzo is cooked in the wonderful chicken broth, so that instead of just plain pasta each orzo is super charged with chicken flavor creating the best lemon chicken orzo soup.
We’re in the middle of winter here in the Carolinas and this year more than most, Spring seems like a long way away. It’s days like these when you need a comfy cozy bowl of lemony soup. While chicken noodle soup is a classic, and a bowl of spicy chicken soup is delicious, this chicken orzo soup recipe is one that I come back to time after time.
No slurping bland noodles when you have orzo to soak up all the great flavors. If you haven’t cooked with orzo before, it’s simply a rice shaped pasta that works so well in this chicken soup because it absorbs the liquid as it cooks. The longer it sits the more it seems to absorb.
By cooking the chicken and vegetables together it gives the broth a rich chicken flavor, not watery at all. Then you’ll add dill and lemon at the end. If you have to leave off the dill, that’s ok, but don’t leave off the lemon. It adds a burst of flavor that perks up the soup. Unlike a traditional Greek lemon orzo soup this recipe does not contain eggs.
This is also one of my favorite soups to take to someone who’s not feeling great. It’s nourishing but also comforting wil simple flavors. You’ll want to keep some lemon chicken orzo soup in your freezer for those days when Spring feels like it will never get here.
Can you Make it Ahead
This lemon orzo soup gets better and better when it sits, so I love to make this a day ahead and let the flavors soak in overnight. The orzo continues to absorb the rich broth giving each spoonful more flavor.
Reasons You’ll Love this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Lemony flavor is so fresh
- Pasta makes it filling
- You can add as much or little chicken as you want
- It’s a great soup for when you’re under the weather
- It’s a one pot meal, the pasta cooks in the broth
- Easy to double the recipe to fill up your freezer
- There’s no cream or cheese in this delicious soup if you need to watch your dairy.
What you’ll need for Easy Chicken Orzo Soup
- Veggies – Green onions and celery. You can certainly add some chopped carrots if you like and you can use a Vidalia onion instead of green onions.
- Chicken – I use boneless thighs which have more flavor, but breasts can be used if you prefer. Use a meat thermometer to determine when they have cooked through, 165º for white meat, 175º for dark. This soup won’t work with rotisserie chicken, you need to cook the chicken with the veggies and broth to get the flavor.
- Chicken broth or bone broth- bone broth has more flavor, but since you’re cooking the chicken in it, chicken stock or broth will still produce a great chicken soup.
- Orzo pasta – this is a rice shaped pasta that you’ll find along with other pastas in your grocery aisle. You can use any small pasta, like stars, but it should be small.
- Fresh Dill – this adds so much flavor, but it can be hard to find in the winter. You can leave it out and still have a great chicken soup.
- Fresh lemon juice– citrus is perfect with chicken soup and adds just enough of a lemony flavor to brighten the soup. You won’t need lemon zest, just a squeeze of lemon at the end.
Simple Steps to Make Orzo Soup
Step 1: Cook the veggies
A Dutch oven is perfect for making orzo pasta soup but any large pot with a lid will work. Begin by cooking the onions and celery, if you want to add carrots, add them here.
Step 2: Boil the chicken
Once the veggies are soft, add raw chicken and broth and bring it to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the chicken has cooked through, 165º for thighs. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Step 3: Cook the pasta
Bring the broth to a boil and add orzo and cook until the pasta is al dente.
Step 4: Shred the chicken
Shred chicken and add to the soup along with fresh dill.
Squeeze a lemon over the top right before serving.
If you find yourself cooking with chicken a lot and want to know for sure that your chicken is cooked thoroughly, head to my informational page on ways to make sure your chicken is cooked all the way but still remains juicy and delicious.
A Few Recipe Notes
- You can easily adjust this recipe by increasing the amount of chicken for a heartier soup.
- If you don’t have fresh dill, it’s still delicious without it.
- When serving leftovers, the lemon flavor will need a boost so squeeze a little more lemon over each bowl.
How to Store Orzo Soup with Chicken
This lemon chicken-orzo recipe makes great leftovers. Let it cool completely and then add to airtight containers where it will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 5 days. It will stay fresh in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Before serving leftovers, add a squeeze of fresh lemon to each serving.
Favorite breads to serve with Chicken Soup
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Easy Chicken Orzo Soup with Lemon
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 6 green onions sliced
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs 1 ½ lbs
- 12 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup orzo
- ½ cup fresh dill chopped
- In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil and when hot, add chopped celery and green onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add chicken and broth and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until chicken has cooked through, about 20 minutes, 175º. Transfer to a cutting board to cool.
- Bring liquid to a boil and then add orzo and cook uncovered until it has softened, about 10-12 minutes.
- With two forks, shred chicken and add back to the pot along with chopped dill. Let sit for a few minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over soup before serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can substitute any shaped pasta for orzo.
- You can use chicken breasts but they won’t have as much flavor as thighs, remove them when they reach 165º.
- The orzo will continue to absorb liquid, if needed you can add additional chicken broth.
- You can adjust the recipe by adding more chicken for a hearty soup.
- For leftovers, add a squeeze of lemon over the top after reheating.