Herb-Loaded Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
A hearty yet light herb-loaded lemon chicken orzo soup that is sure to warm you right up! This soup is cozy, comforting and perfect, especially if you’re feeling under the weather!
Warm, hearty, and cozy!
All the things I want to hear when I think about a big bowl of soup: trust me, today’s lemon chicken orzo soup checks all those boxes and then some.
This soup is speckled with hearty veggies like carrots, onions, celery, and baby spinach. But what I think really makes it is the broth that we flavored with chopped garlic and fresh herbs. There are tender chunks of shredded chicken breasts and orzo pasta that tie the whole thing together. Great for an all-in-one boxed lunch and the epitome of under-the-weather comfort food if you’ve got the bug floating around at home!
Lemon chicken orzo soup isn’t something that’s brand new. In fact, I even made a different version of it when I first started the blog. I’ll spare you the sad pictures, but it’s been something I’ve always wanted to remake and really amp up the flavors. Today’s version certainly delivers tons of fresh herbs that lend so much flavor to the chicken broth and loads of vegetables in the mix too. Even if you’re using store-bought stock, by the time that you get done, no one will be able to tell!
I’m always big on soup, whether it’s in the winter or the summer. I love having a pot of soup in the fridge for quick lunches.
Have you made my chicken corn soup yet? It is one of my go-to soup recipes when I’m feeling under the weather. There’s also a flu-fighting chicken noodle soup that I make with turmeric if the cold/flu is a little more severe. It’s the perfect recipe to have in your bag of tricks, it will clear all of it right up!
There’s also my beef and barley soup that I’ve had a ton of you make and message me about. The secret ingredient tomato basil soup is perfect for those who are looking for a meatless option (it’s also creamless!). And my latest obsession? Tortellini. I’ve got a tortellini minestrone soup and a roasted veggie creamy tortellini soup to prove it! I’ve had a ton of you guys make my latest soups and send me pictures on Instagram, and I absolutely love seeing you recreate my recipes!
Ingredients for orzo lemon chicken soup:
- Olive Oil: We’ll use this to cook the mirepoix.
- Mirepoix: This is a combination of onions, carrots, and celery.
- Garlic: Add as much or as little as you’d like! Garlic adds flavor and warmth to the recipe to make a hearty bowl of orzo soup.
- Bouquet Garni: you’ll need ingredients like fresh parsley, thyme, oregano, tarron, and rosemary. You’ll also need a bay leaf, feel free to use a dried bay leaf, or fresh if you’d like. A bouquet garni is basically a bouquet of fresh herbs. The mix of herbs tied together with culinary-grade string is often used when poaching fish or chicken, making stocks, or cooking beans, amongst other things. The word literally translated from French means ‘garnished bouquet.’ Essentially, you tie the herbs together, so it’s easy to fish them out later! It also keeps the herbs together so that they don’t fall into the stock.If you have a medium-mesh spice ball, you could also use that in place of making a bouquet garni!
- Chicken Broth: If you happen to buy a rotisserie chicken, you can pull the meat off and make your own chicken broth using my instant pot recipe. But for most of us, it’s much easier to reconstitute a few bouillon cubes or just use store-bought broth. Just know that all of these options will work!
- Parmesan Rind: The parmesan rind gives this soup a nice umami flavor. It is an optional ingredient but we prefer this lemon chicken orzo soup with it than without it. If you’re wondering where you can find parmesan rind, it’s actually on the back of a block of parmesan cheese. It feels waxy and slightly different from the cheese portion. If you don’t have or don’t want to buy parmesan, you could always ask your cheesemonger at the store if they have any parmesan rinds to sell! Sometimes, they’ll even just give it to you, although I find it is a bit rare nowadays. People now know the magic of a parm rind!
- Orzo pasta: Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that works great in so many soup recipes! I even use it to make risotto!
- Shredded Chicken: You can use a chicken breast or chicken thighs for this recipe. You can even shred up a rotisserie chicken. The quickest way to shred chicken is to do it with two forks or you can pop it into a standmixer and let it run with the paddle attachemnt on the medium-low setting.
- Baby Spinach: Adds more vitamins and some freshness to the soup. We’ll add this ingredient at the end so that they spinach remains a vibrant greenc olor.
- Lemons: You’ll need both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for this recipe.
Instructions for lemon chicken orzo soup recipe:
- Saute the aromatics. Cook the onions, celery, and carrots in a glug on olive oil. Then add the garlic and the bouquet garni and let it cook for just a quick 30 seconds. The herbs will release a lot of their flavor in the hot oil. This will really bring out the flavors and infuse that herby goodness into the oil, which will then carry all those flavors throughout the soup.
- Pour in the chicken stock and allow for it to heat through on medium heat. Add the chicken broth and let it come up to a simmer slowly in the dutch oven. You want to allow for it to take its time when it’s coming to simmer as this will help build more flavor.
- Then add the orzo. Check the cook time on the orzo package before you add it in. When the stock starts to boil, add the orzo and allow it to cook as directed. Usually, it takes anywhere from 7-9 minutes.
- Add the shredded chicken, baby spinach, lemon zest, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and adjust with additional salt if the soup needs it.
- Serve and store leftovers. Serve the soup in bowls. It’s great with a little bit of no knead focaccia or even my cheddar and jalapeno bread.You can snip some parsley or even some fresh dill on top. Leftovers should be kept in an airtight container and consumed with 4 days for optimum flavor.
Substitutions for this recipe
If you’re in a big hurry and need to get this lemon chicken orzo soup on the table fast:
- purchase prechopped mirepoix – they sell it in the refrigerated produce section
- grab the prepared protein
- swap the orzo with mini shells or bow ties if you have those on hand!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 ¾ cups mirepoix (equal parts chopped onions, carrots, celery)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 sprigs EACH: fresh thyme AND fresh parsley (see notes)
- 1 sprig EACH: fresh oregano, tarragon, AND fresh rosemary (see notes)
- 1 bay leaf (see notes)
- parmesan rind, optional
- 7 cups low sodium chicken stock
- ¾ cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 ½ cups cooked and shredded chicken
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- ¼ cup lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon
- SAUTE: Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mirepoix and sauté the veggies for 4-5 minutes or until the veggies soften a bit. Add the garlic and the bouquet garni during the last 30 seconds and stir until fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock and add the parmesan rind.
- BOIL: Allow the soup to reach a boil on medium heat.
- PASTA: Then, add the pasta, and kick the heat up to medium-high and allow for it to cook according to package directions. My pasta box suggested 7-8 minutes total. Test the pasta for doneness, then add shredded chicken, baby spinach, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the soup. Remove the bouquet garni (or spice ball.) Taste for seasonings and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
- Herbs: feel free to swap the fresh herbs for dried. You'll want to use about 1/4 teaspoon of each of these dried or just swap with 2 teaspoons italian seasoning. I typically use dried bay leaves, but fresh work well too!