Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
This is the perfect weeknight chicken soup with orzo, leeks, lemon zest and loads of lemon juice for serving, plus spinach and a handful of fresh dill or parsley. A healthy and fresh soup bursting with bright lemony flavors and tender orzo pasta! Each bowl has tender pieces of meat and hearty vegetables, plus a squeeze of lemon juice for bright citrus flavor. Want to make this tasty recipe even easier? Feel free to use leftover roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken instead.
You can definitely use rice instead of the orzo but I love the addition of the orzo. It gives the soup almost a velvety finish because some of the starch that escapes the orzo thickens up the soup perfectly. It takes less than 10 minutes to cook. I add it right into the boiling stock, which infuses more flavor into the noodles instead of cooking it separately and adding it later. Saves you from using an extra pot too.
I like to add the zest at the beginning of the recipe and serve this soup with lemon wedges so each person can add as much lemony flavour to their soups as they like. If I was making this just for me I would add a couple of tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice into the soup after I have stirred in the fresh herbs because I love a lemony soup. Feel free to do what you like according to your taste and make sure to season the soup as you go.
This is what I crave during the winter months of course, or when I’m feeling a bit under the weather, but also during the spring or that bit of time between spring and summer when the days are starting to warm up slightly but the evenings still have a chill in the air. It’s loaded with flavours that I think are totally springlike - spinach, leeks, fresh and fabulous herbs and lemon. I also love to add fresh or frozen peas to mine sometimes amping up the veggies and springlike vibes.
How to make Lemon Chicken Orzo soup:
- Start by sautéing your mirepoix (this time the combination is leeks instead of onions, carrots and celery) until veggies are tender. Then add the garlic, herbs and the lemon zest
- Add broth and chicken and simmer away until chicken is cooked through (skip this step if using left over roast chicken or rotisserie (for added flavour you can brown chicken in the oil before adding in the mirepoix - optional)
- Remove chicken and shred - set aside
- Add the orzo (or sub with rice or any small pasta) and simmer until cooked through
- Stir in the chicken, spinach and the fresh herbs and simmer another couple of minutes until spinach has wilted. Then enjoy!
If you like this recipe you will love these:
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise ½” thick
- 2 celery stalk, sliced
- 2 carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme or rosemary (dried or freshl
- 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast *
- Zest of one lemon
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¾ cup orzo
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Dill or parsley
- Lemon halves (for serving)
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add leek, celery, carrots and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5-8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme and lemon zest.
- Add chicken and broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool, then shred or chop chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Meanwhile, return broth to a boil. Add orzo and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.
- Test for seasoning. Stir in the shredded chicken, spinach and dill. Simmer another couple of minutes until spinach is wilted then serve with lemon halves or wedges for squeezing over. Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat, use either your microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat.
- To make it avgolemono you will need 2-3 eggs, and juice of 3–4 lemons (about ½ cup). With the pot off the heat when soup is done. Whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in a small bowl. The idea here is to warm up the egg mixture slowly (without scrambling the eggs). Slowly add a scoop of the soup into the egg mixture. Then add your warmed egg mixture back to the soup pot – stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy.
- Feel free to add extra veggies to this one if you like. I love to add green peas to mine too.
- Feel free to substitute the leek for one large yellow onion.
- If you would like use leftover roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken - you can. You should have approx 3 cups of shredded chicken.
- If not serving the lemon chicken soup right away, you’ll notice that the liquid disappears slowly. The starches soak up the liquid. Just add some stock to the soup for a less thick consistency, and when storing or reheating later.
Apdapted from Epicurious