This lemon chicken orzo soup recipe is light, healthy, and cozy. It uses wholesome everyday ingredients and is sure to become a family favorite!
Love lemon chicken? Try my Easy Creamy Lemon Chicken or this Lemon Chicken Orzo (One Pot Pasta).
Why you'll love it
I've made a lot of soups on here, but this lemon chicken soup with orzo is hands down the most beloved by my readers. It's just so comforting without being heavy, and people adore the bright lemony broth. This orzo soup is simple to make, so it's ideal anytime you're craving a really cozy soup without a lot of effort.
If you're not familiar with it, orzo is that tiny rice-shaped pasta. It looks like rice but cooks really fast, so you get that rice effect in less time. I cook with it fairly often, and I always enjoy it. I mean, you can't really go wrong with pasta. Except for bowtie pasta, but that's a story for another day. 😉 In any case, this recipe is like chicken noodle soup but elevated!
What you'll need
- Celery, carrots, and onion - the aromatic base for any good soup. I prefer sweet (Vidalia) onion, but yellow works as well.
- Butter and olive oil - for sautéing
- Garlic - for more savory flavor. I like to use this garlic press to mince it since you don't need to peel the cloves first.
- Flour - it thickens the broth a little
- Chicken broth - for deeper, richer flavor
- Italian seasoning - it's my favorite dried herb blend that comes all in a single jar for convenience
- Chicken - the boneless skinless chicken breasts cook right in the soup
- Orzo - you'll be able to find it in the dry pasta aisle
- Lemon juice - for that burst of brightness. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Parsley - it adds a pop of flavor and freshness
- If you really want a more intense pop of lemon in here, I suggest grating in some lemon zest. I love my Microplane zester/grater for that purpose! You can also increase the amount of lemon juice to suit your tastes and serve with lemon slices right in the bowls as well.
How to make lemon chicken orzo soup
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery with the olive oil and butter until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, followed by the flour. Pour in the chicken broth, and stir until the flour has totally dissolved.
Add in the Italian seasoning and the uncooked chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Add in the orzo, and simmer until it's al dente, stirring fairly often.
Once the chicken reaches a temperature of 165F, take it out and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add it back in along with the lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley, and salt & pepper. That's it!
Can I make it ahead?
- Yes, but you may not want to use the one pot method in that case since the orzo will soak up the broth over time. If you plan on having a lot left over or are making it well ahead of time, I recommend cooking the orzo separately and adding it into each bowl when warming it up.
Substitutions and variations
- You can substitute the chicken breasts for chicken thighs if you prefer.
- If you want to make this with already cooked/rotisserie chicken, I suggest adding the chicken in at the same time as the orzo so you don't overcook it.
- Use low-sodium chicken broth if you have concerns with salt.
- Want to make this soup in your slow cooker instead? Try my Crockpot Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup.
What to serve with this soup
- I like to keep it simple with a big slice of bread. I'd recommend a baguette or sourdough to round out the meal.
- If you love the soup and salad combo, try my Super Simple Parmesan Arugula Salad or mixed greens with my Homemade Italian Dressing.
Leftovers and storage
- It'll keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. You may need to add more chicken broth to leftovers as the pasta will absorb it.
- This soup can be frozen, but the orzo does get a bit puffy. If you want to freeze the whole batch, I recommend adding cooked orzo in after you thaw it.
- Reheat in a small saucepan over a low heat until warmed through, stirring every so often.
More delicious chicken soup recipes
Questions about this soup? Leave me a comment below, and tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you've made it!
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 2 sticks celery chopped finely
- 2 medium carrots peeled & chopped finely
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1.5 pounds uncooked chicken breasts
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or to taste
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Sauté the celery, carrots, and onions in a large soup pot with the butter and oil over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the flour and cook for another minute or so.
- Pour in chicken broth and stir until the flour has dissolved, then add the Italian seasoning and chicken. Bring the soup to a boil.
- Cover the soup (lid slightly ajar), and reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the orzo and cook for another 10 minutes or until the orzo is cooked through. I keep the lid off and stir it fairly often because it tends to stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Take the chicken out of the pot and cut it up, then add it back in. Add the lemon juice (you may want to add more than I suggest - I didn't want to make the soup too lemony for some people), parsley, and season the soup with salt & pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
- You can sub the chicken breasts for chicken thighs if you prefer.
- Chicken is safe to eat at 165F and can go from undercooked to overcooked quickly, so I recommend using an instant read meat thermometer whenever cooking chicken so you're not guessing.
- Use low-sodium chicken broth if you're sensitive to salt.
- You may need to add more chicken broth to leftovers as the orzo soaks it up.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
Kathryn Lowry says
This soup is delicious! Light and full of flavor. It has become a family favorite.
Sharon Wilson says
I wondering how this soup freezes? In my experience, cooked pasta does not freeze well. However, orzo is small and thick….don’t know if that would make a difference. Could I make the chicken soup base and then add orzo to thawed soup? But it seems to me I’d be missing some flavor. I’m disabled with a brain injury and cooking isn’t as easy for me these days. So I like to batch cook and freeze to maximize my efforts, especially with soups. Thanks so much.
Hi! The blog post has freezing tips. 🙂
Simple, fast soup that delivers a lot of fresh, bright flavor. *Watch orzo closely depending on what brand you use. I typically stop boiling at 8min because we prefer it al dente, and it will continue to cook once soup is returned to warm/simmer. I also limit flour to 1 tbs which is plenty to thicken this amount of soup. Lastly, sub rice if you don’t prefer orzo. Tasty!
The chicken soup was amazing.
I will make it again.
I would recommend this recipe.
Thank you so much!!
Made this tonight for my husband and I and we were not disappointed! Followed recipe exactly as shown. I used precooked shredded chicken to eliminate dealing with raw chicken and it worked great. Would not change a thing with this recipe! Definitely will be making this one again!!!
Katie M. says
I've made this over and over! My whole family loves this soup and the leftovers are even better. I use a little extra lemon juice and serve with warm, crusty french bread. Perfect for a cold winter night! Thank you!
Fantastic!! You're very welcome!
We absolutely love love this soup! I add a little bit of extra veggies and lemon juice. We make it at least twice a month when it’s chilly outside! I’ve also shared it with people and they rave about it!
Thank you so much!! I appreciate the shares!
Kelsey Mayer says
Sooo yummy! My new favorite soup recipe. I followed the recipe exactly however I added a splash of heavy cream and red pepper flakes and…. OH MY!! Delish!
Thank you so much! Glad you liked it!
I make this soup every couple of weeks!! Love it with extra lemon juice and zest!! This week adding baby spinach to the mix!!!❤️❤️❤️
I love that!! 🙂
Mary Russell says
Wonderful! Made this for myself. Yum! Made two little changes. I had some fres Basil so I used it in place of the Parsley. I had some Parmesan rinds so I used them.
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
So happy it was a hit, Mary!
I made this yesterday and is so good.you get so much flavor in such a short amount of time.
My Italian mom always made orzo chicken soup. Just like this. We use organic rotisserie chicken from Publix and I toss some of the skin into the pot for the sake of real chicken fat flavor 9 and then remove it). We love this soup and have it with toasty buttered rosemary sourghdough bread.
Love that idea!
Excellent. Used rotisserie chicken and chicken stock. It is delicious
You're very welcome!!
One of my family's favorite recipes! It's delicious and it absolutely fills that soup craving when you need it. Prep and cook time couldn't be easier.
Konichiwa ,greeting from Japan ,I add some leeks and it’s perfect for winter night .my family love it,we serve th with warm Baquet and the next day we have left over and we serve with rice .we didn’t like orzo .thank you for the recipe.
You are very welcome! 🙂
Delicious recipe but I found that the orzo took longer to cook!
I'm happy you liked it, Meg! Yup, as mentioned in the blog post, one pot meals can vary depending on the pot/stove/temp you cook them on, not to mention ingredients can vary, so it's important to adjust as needed... I am glad you were able to make it work. 🙂
So delicious!! My picky family even enjoyed it! 😂
Haha that's what I like to hear!! 😀
This is the best soup easy and delicious I have made it 3 times since I found the recipe Thanks
Aww thanks!! That's so nice to hear!!
Made this tonight with pre-made rotisserie chicken..... delicious!
This has become a staple for us! The flavor is incredible - if I wanted to use bouillon cubes to swap out for broth, would I need to cook the bouillon separately and then add it in that way?
I'm so happy you like it!! You could replace the broth quantity with water and then add the cubes in to taste later, or do as you suggested and cook it separately.
Got it I’m trying that out tonight! Also wanted to get your thoughts on swapping the orzo for rice - could I could the rice in the broth or should I cook it on the side and add at the end?
Thank you so much!
I'd cook it on the side and add it in as needed. 🙂 Hope you love the soup!
I have made this in the past and forgot to save your recipe. Just spent a good half hour searching for it! Love this soup! So fresh and tasty! I am thinking of adding fresh dill as well?
I'm so glad you found it again! 🙂 Yes - I think fresh dill is a fab idea!
So bright and comforting. I will definitely make this again.
This is so good! It was easy and pretty quick, too. I love how the broth thickens a bit as it cooks. Great combination of flavors!
I made this twice this week. So good and hearty. I used rotisserie chicken both times and it was delish. I imagine using raw chicken would only make it better.
I'm so happy you liked it, Patti!
I have made this soup by the recipe but today I made it with Israeli cous cous because i didn’t have orzo. It turned out yummy still!
Kelly F says
Perfect soup while I was sick. Used frozen carrots and boneless/skinless chicken thighs. Delicious!
I'm so happy you liked it, Kelly! Hope you're feeling better now. 🙂
Lauren Schafer says
Would it be okay to add cream to this to make a more creamier soup?
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Sure! Add it in towards the end. Enjoy!
You can also add egg to make it creamy, Greek style. Whisk a few eggs in a separate bowl and temper them by adding a bit of broth (slowly!) to the eggs to raise their temp a bit. Then VERY slowly stir the egg into the soup, this will make it nice and creamy. Add the eggs too fast, it will be egg drop style, but I don't think that's half bad either...
What is the serving size? I see there are 6 servings but I’m looking for specific serving size. Thank you!
Hi Susan! I don't know - sorry. I am not a trained nutritionist, and that is something the recipe card calculates automatically to give readers an estimate.
Would it be possible to make this on the stove and then keep it warm in a crock pot for a pot luck?
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Sure, but you may want to boil the orzo separately and add it in closer to serving time. I also have the Crockpot version linked in the post. Enjoy!
Delicious soup. I used roasted chicken thighs, with the skin removed after roasting, and everything blended perfectly.
Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it.
Made this tonight and it’s so delicious. I’m glad you mentioned cooking the orzo separately so it doesn’t soak up all the chicken broth.
So happy you liked it, Tara!
this soup was amazing! So easy to make and even the kids ate it.. Super flavorful and healthy! Will definitely be making it again!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Excellent! Thanks, Samantha!
Love this soup! My daughter and Husband liked it! Will make again!
Great to hear, Diane! 🙂
My family and extended family went crazy for it! I used homemade chicken broth ~ we all loved it!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Awesome! So happy it was a hit with your whole family, Theresa!
This is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing!!
Thank you, and you're very welcome, Paula! 🙂
Omg this soup is SOOO good!!! So simple yet so good
So happy to hear it!
The best soup I have ever had! I usually don’t like chicken noodle soup but the lemon and orzo… perfection. This is my third time making it. I usually add an extra 2 cups of broth because the orzo soaks up the broth so much.
Fantastic! I'm so glad you liked it, Katie! 😀 Thanks for your 5-star review!
Made it exactly as written, used thighs as I'm a dark meat gal .. added the lemon zest as well .. absolutely delicious .it's a keeper !
Excellent!! So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Delicious recipe, but the orzo sucks up every drop of broth if we don't eat it all right away. Any idea if I cook the orzo separate will it prevent this?
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Hi Christy! For sure. We actually go through all the scenarios (make ahead, leftovers) in detail in the blog post. 🙂
This soup is a family favorite. I make it every couple of weeks and everyone loves it! I follow the recipe exactly. Perfection!!
I'm so glad to hear that, Jenny! 😀
Kim Janauskas says
Made this tonight, I make a lot of soups …..this was delicious, loved the idea of cooking the chicken in the soup , will definitely make again. Thanks for sharing
You're very welcome, Kim!
Hello! Just wanting to know if you are cooking the raw chicken in the broth?
Hi Diane! That's correct. If you read through the entire blog post, that may help make it more clear for you as we explain every detail. Hope you enjoy the soup! 🙂
As far as soup goes this is one of the best ones I’ve found online. Will probably now be my go to, very easy recipe didn’t take long at all and quite delicious!
I'm so glad you like it, Shawn! 😀
This recipe looks yummy. As a vegetarian, I'm planning to omit the poultry. Any ideas for this alteration?
Hi! I think some readers have tried that... you could look thru the comments and that may give you some ideas. I'd probably double up on the veggies and use vegetable broth/bouillon.
Thanks. Good suggestions. I'll try them.
Hello Natasha. I’m also vegetarian and love this recipe. I’ve tried it using a plant based chicken but prefer it without. I do add “chicken” flavored vegetarian powder/broth, an entire packet of the Italian dressing mix, and the juice of two lemons. I probably use more carrots and definitely less orzo. I think it’s perfect that way.
Hello JavaFox. . I’m also vegetarian and love this recipe. I’ve tried it using a plant based chicken but prefer it without. I do add “chicken” flavored vegetarian powder/broth, an entire packet of the Italian dressing mix, and the juice of two lemons. I probably use more carrots and definitely less orzo. I think it’s perfect that way.
Thanks for sharing this delicious and yummy soup. I don’t have a Dutch oven and the slow cooker version will take a bit too long. Is it ok to use a big regular pot in hopes it all absorbs the ingredients? I know this sounds silly, but trying to get get better at my cooking game. Thanks so much again.
Hi Ashley! Absolutely... a regular pot will work just fine. 🙂 I hope you enjoy the soup. Let me know how it goes!
Alison A. says
My daughter has Celiac disease so we can't use orzo. Could I use basmati rice instead? Possibly cook it on the side and add at the end? Or a GF pasta maybe would work? Thoughts on substitutions?
I think that should work, Alison! 🙂 I'd also leave the flour out.
Super easy and flavorful! Made exactly as recipe card stated. Found the soup to be light yet oh so comforting!
Thank you!! 🙂
I made this recipe for lunch with one substitution-I used leftover turkey instead of chicken. I just cut up the turkey and threw it in the pot in the last 10 minutes to heat through. I like easy and quick recipes and this was just that. I will use more lemon juice next time and maybe only one tablespoon of flour because it turned out too thick--but good. I'll just add more broth with the leftovers. My husband and I really liked it. He told me to make it more often. I plan to do that.
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Thanks Lucy! Glad the turkey substitution worked out!
Hi! Do you know how to adjust this if using an instant pot?
No - sorry! I haven't cooked with orzo in the IP so I don't really want to guess.
Patty Walker says
Made this tonight with leftover Turkey. Was really good! I actually used 4 tablespoons of lemon juice (not fresh lemons) as we liked the stronger lemon flavor. Will definitely make this again
Awesome!! So glad you gave it a try!
This is a very easy and delicious recipe to make. The recommendation to add rotisserie chicken at the end with the orzo was a good one. I doubled the lemon juice for just a touch more lemon flavor,and roasted the garlic. Seasoning was well balanced. This recipe is a winner.
I'm so glad it was a hit, Nancy!! 🙂
This was excellent as written. I did use a rotisserie chicken which was a nice shortcut. This will be in the regular rotation for sure.
I'm so pleased you enjoyed it, Terri! Thanks for your review.
Quinn Johnson says
Delicious!!! I will make this again and again. So hearty and filling. Even my 6 year old gave it a 10/10.
That's so nice to hear!! 😀 Thanks for your review!