Lemon chicken orzo soup is a cozy, comforting soup made with tender shredded chicken, veggies, fresh herbs, orzo pasta, and lemon for a burst of citrus flavor. Indulge in bowl after bowl of this easy-to-make goodness that’s a must-have during the colder winter months.
If you are in the mood for soup, then try my Roasted Garlic and Butternut Soup and Creamy Spinach Tortellini Soup recipes, next!
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Lots of dill and plenty of lemon juice take this lemon chicken orzo soup to the next level. It’s vibrant, packs a good amount of zing, and is cozy all at the same time. Chicken thighs simmer in chicken broth, celery, carrot, onion and garlic, and when ready, kissed with fresh dill and loads of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
If you have any crusty bread on hand, get it ready as it makes for a fantastic sidekick. Prepare to cozy up with a bowl because this is the best soup for cold weather!
Why This Recipe Works
- A Tasty Twist on Chicken Noodle Soup – I’m not knocking classic Campbell’s soup, but homemade chicken orzo lemon soup is definitely a step up. Use traditional chicken soup ingredients with a citrusy tang from fresh ingredients like lemon and dill.
- Better than Panera – Skip the lines and save some money when you make this lemon chicken soup from the comfort of your home. You can even have seconds!
- Easy to Make – With a cooking time of less than an hour, this soup tastes like it took all day to make. The combination of flavors and the juicy, tender chicken will impress your guests.
Tools You’ll Need
Ingredients You Will Need for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Again, this recipe calls for simple, familiar ingredients–most of which you may already have on hand. Let’s get down to what you’ll need:
- Chicken – Thighs, drumsticks, or a mix are used. I prefer dark meat over white meat for this recipe because chicken breast tends to be too dry.
- Chicken broth – Use low-sodium chicken stock so as to give you more flexibility with seasoning with salt.
- Ghee – Used to sauté the aromatics. You can use avocado oil or olive oil, but I find ghee to intensify the flavor of the soup.
- Vegetables – Carrots and celery are the main vegetables in this soup.
- Fresh Herbs – This recipe calls for using a lot of herbs, perfect for yielding a ton of flavor. You will need fresh dill, thyme, and bay leaves. Fresh parsley would work as a replacement for one of the herbs.
- Orzo pasta – You can use any pasta of your choice, but I love to use this fun shape.
- Aromatics – Onion and garlic.
- Lemon – Juice from 1½ lemons and if you are a lemon lover like me, add more lemon juice!
- Salt and pepper – Season to taste. Italian seasoning (with no additional salt) would be a tasty addition too.
How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
You are just steps away from cozy, comforting goodness.
- Sauté onion, celery, and carrots in ghee for 4 minutes in a dutch oven or large pot. Add garlic and fresh thyme. Sauté for 1 minute over medium-high heat.
- Add chicken thighs and cook until no longer pink on the outside.
- Add bay leaves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 35 minutes.
- Remove chicken thighs and shred chicken into thick, bite-sized pieces on a cutting board. Discard bones.
- Return chicken to pot and add orzo. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until the orzo is al dente. (For softer orzo, just follow the package directions.)
- Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir in fresh lemon juice and dill. Serve immediately.
Tips and Tricks
- Use bone-in meat. While boneless meat may be preferred, use bone-in meat as it imparts more flavor to the broth.
- Making this soup ahead of time? Whenever I make this soup in the morning to be enjoyed in the evening, I wait to add the orzo, dill and lemon juice just before serving.
- For clearer broth, keep a consistent, gentle simmer. Also, constant stirring after adding the orzo pasta activates the starch, causing murkier broth. So stir occasionally.
- For even more flavor, consider adding a dry white wine. It complements the lemon flavor and elevates the flavor profile. Chardonnay or Pinot are the best choices.
- Consider adding parmesan cheese as an optional garnish.
Save time and use pre-cooked chicken instead. Rotisserie chicken is a great option. Add it to the pot when you add the orzo so the meat doesn’t overcook.
Slow Cooker or Crockpot. Saute the vegetables in a skillet on the stove, then cook everything low and slow for up to 8 hours. Do not add the orzo until the last 20 minutes of cooking.
Instant Pot. Sauté the veggies then put the instant pot on high pressure to cook the chicken in the broth for about 15 minutes. After releasing the pressure add the pasta and set it to warm for an additional 15 minutes.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach. Add baby spinach for even more veggies and nutrients.
After it has completely cooled, store leftover soup in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To reheat, place it in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Occasionally stir until it is evenly warmed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze lemon chicken orzo soup?
You sure can! Simply cook through to shredding the chicken and add it back to the pot. Cool soup completely and place in a freezer-safe airtight container. It will last up to 3 months. When ready to eat, simply reheat on the stove, add orzo, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice and dill, and serve.
What does adding lemon to soup do?
Chicken soup can be very rich and savory. Adding a bright citrus flavor like lemon to the soup lightens the overall taste and complements the other ingredients. Heck, you can even add lemon zest if you are really feeling up to it!
What should I serve with lemon chicken orzo soup?
Pair this soup with bread. Try my Garlic Confit Toast recipe!
Looking for More Soup Recipes
- Creamy Mushroom Soup
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- Beef and Daikon Radish Soup
- Crab Soup with Shiitake and Napa Cabbage
- Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Loving this Recipe?
There’s a reason this Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup is loved by all! Leave a comment below and share your love for this recipe on Instagram and Pinterest. We love to see you get down in the kitchen. Thank you for supporting Whisper of Yum and happy eating!
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 1⅓ pounds chicken thigh, skinless, bone-in
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch rough pieces
- 2 large celery ribs, cut into ½-inch diagonal slices
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- ¼ cup garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock, low sodium
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon dry orzo
- Kosher salt, to taste and for seasoning chicken, I use Diamond Crystal brand
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste and for seasoning chicken
- 1½ large lemons, juiced, remaining half cut into wedges
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped, plus extra for garnish
- Season chicken with kosher salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add ghee. Once melted, add onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté for 4 minutes.
- Add garlic and fresh thyme. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Use cooking utensil to scoop sautéed mixture to one side of the pot and add chicken thighs. Cook for 2 minutes or until no longer pink. Add bay leaves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 35 minutes.
- Remove chicken thighs and place on a plate. Shred chicken into thick pieces and discard bones.
- Return chicken to pot and add orzo. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until orzo is tender. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Fish out bay leaves and stir in lemon juice and dill. Adjust taste with kosher salt and black pepper, if necessary.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with a fresh grind of pepper, leftover fresh dill and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.
Love! My house smells so good. First time using orzo and it makes a great noodle replacement when I’m out.
So glad you enjoyed, Jessica + I agree; orzo is a great shape that can be used in a number of dishes.
A comfort food that I like cooking up on those chilly days out. Family and friends enjoy it:)
It’s definitely my go-to soup–easy to make and so delish! Glad your family and friends enjoyed!
This was a perfect way to use my home grown lemons! I love how flavorful this soup is with all the fresh lemons and vegetables in it. A little sad I didn’t find this recipe sooner LOL.
Haha glad you found it, it’ll always be here for you!
I tried this recipe two ways (with butter then switched to ghee) and let me tell you.. The ghee gives the dish a much richer and cleaner flavor. Glad you went with the ghee instead, taste delicious.