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.
Such a good & light soup! I use lemon infused olive oil, a little extra butter, more garlic, 1.5x the veggies, 2x broth (plug for my local HEB: Central Market Organics free range broth is by far the best I've found, plus can buy in bulk) and use thighs and drumsticks, skin on; cook, then remove the skin and debone the chicken. Add the amount of orzo that the recipe calls for and at least 1.5 lemons + zest. Deliziosa zuppa!
So happy you liked it!
This was outstanding! (And I supposedly don't even like chicken, and I don't like to cook.) For the herbs, I used one whole stalk of fresh rosemary, chopped, and a pinch each of dried basil, oregano, and thyme. And I used the juice of a whole lemon. Otherwise, I pretty much stuck to the script. I'll definitely make this again!
Haha I love that!! Thanks for your 5-star review, Kay!
Easy to make, but was very subtle in flavor. I added some homemade chicken stock to the broth that made this worth eating -- but the orzo just soaked up way to much of the juice and made it a mushy consistency. I think separating enough soup into another pot then adding orzo to that would be better, then just cooking in the orzo each time when you make leftovers.
** I did not add any flour bc the soup thickened up just fine from the starch of the orzo.
Did you read the tips in the blog post that address all this? There's also almost 1,000 comments on here that could give you some ideas on what others have done if you want to experiment more next time.
My whole family loved it and I’m making it for a second time tonight! So flavorful, thank you!
You're so welcome, Felicia! 🙂
Mary Eileen White says
I forgot to give you 5 stars with my first post. Didn't see the stars until after I submitted the postings. Mary Eileen
I appreciate it! 😀
Mary Eileen White says
My neighbor made this and shared it with me. Omgoodness so delicious I made a pot of it for me. I have been feeling under the weather. This is all I want to it. It has certainly helped with my recovery. It is so easy to make. I am sharing the recipe with family members. Best chicken soup I have ever made.
I'm thrilled you enjoyed it, Mary Eileen. 🙂 Glad you're feeling better!
This is simply delicious! If served the next day, you will need to add broth!
So glad you liked it, Carol!
Omgggg this so delicious. I went for the boneless thighs and I added fresh spinach. The taste of the soup is so good and I like the fact that the flour made it more like a stew. I’m definitely keeping this recipe.
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Susie!! Thanks for your review!
I made this tonight for dinner and ate it with my homemade sourdough and it was delicious! I’m a lemon fan so I added the juice of two whole lemons and it was great. I also added some beef stock because I didn’t have enough chicken stock and it was yummy!
Excellent!! Glad you enjoyed it, Tay! 😀
Katherine Konstantakos says
Made it and it was bomb , so good I will make it again.
Yay!! So glad to hear it. 😀
Melanie Saldana-Gardner says
I would love to make this but we are a GF family, so I was wondering if you can replace the Orzo with rice?
Hi! You could try, but cooking time may vary and you may need to add more liquid. I do also have a tested chicken and rice soup on the blog you could try as well. 🙂
Delallo pasta brand has a gluten free orzo that’s really good.
Nicole G. says
We are also a GF house....my fav substitute for flour as a thickening agent is corn starch. It's always made a creamier textured gravy/soup without adding flavor unlike so many non-wheat flours ( almond, rice, GF Baking Flour) just substitute 1/2 the amount of flour with cornstarch by adding it to room the room temp liquid called for in any recipe or just a little water to make a paste before adding to the soup & voila!
I make mine with arborio rice (for risotto) because it is a starchy rice that is recommended by many Greek cooks. This is Avgolemono soup in Greek.
Melanie M Spindler says
Hi, Yes I did this with rice as well, I would say to brown the rice a bit first and then add it in to the soup:)
This soup is fabulous. Big hit in our house. Love this site!!
Thank you so much!
This recipe is so good! Made it tonight since my little family is feeling under the weather and it definitely hit the spot! This is definitely going in our soup rotation!
I'm thrilled to hear that, Kaylie!! 😀
I haven’t tried making this yet, but it looks exactly like a chicken soup my mother used to make and which I loved. She passed away a short time ago so, once I feel I can attempt this recipe without crying, I’ll try it. Thank you for posting this.
I'm so sorry for your loss, Emily. 🙁 Sending my love. XOXO
Fantastic soup! Super easy to make and has awesome flavor. Thank you for sharing.🥰
You're very welcome, Melissa!!
Omg that was delicious! I was sceptical about the flour but it really made a difference!
So happy to hear it!
Delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe.
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
You're very welcome, Barbara! 🙂
Delicious. Vegan-ized by using non dairy butter and a can of white beans in place of the chicken!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Great to hear, Beth! Thank you.
Delicious! I added rosemary as well and it was perfect! Can I freeze the soup?
So glad you liked it! Thanks for your review! There's storage instructions in the blog post. 🙂
Found this recipe on Pinterest which lead me to your page. This recipe was a hit with me! I added more lemon juice. The next time I make this soup, I plan on adding the orzo afterwards as you were correct that all of the broth was absorbed by the pasta. Either way, I was still happy with the flavor of this soup.
So glad you enjoyed it!! Thanks for your review! 🙂
This is a really quick and easy recipe. I made a few adjustments along the way: cut up chicken on the front end instead of cooking then taking it out to only repot it. Added salt and a few peppercorn before adding Orzo. Really nice. Thanks for sharing
You're welcome!! 🙂
SOOOOO GOOOOD!! Made for myself after being sick and antibiotics tearing up my stomach- super comforting. I cooked it as written except: used shredded carrots, no butter, added some apple cider vinegar while veggies were cooking, used a rotisserie chicken, and juice from 1 and a half lemons. Used way more Italian seasoning, added basil & thyme, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. So so so good. Will be in the rotation for sure.
I'm so glad you liked it!
Kate M says
I thought it was an easy weekday soup to throw together- took less than an hour, awesome!
I did find it to be a bit bland tasting as written so I added a little more parsley and Italian seasoning than the recipe called for (about doubled it for mine) and added a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and it was perfect! I’m sure it would taste even more amazing with homemade chicken broth. Will try that next time!
Glad you were able to tweak it a bit and enjoy it! 🙂 I'd also suggest adding enough salt as chicken is inherently bland.
Erika Godshall says
This is a new family favorite! Absolutely delicious. Thank you !
You're very welcome!
Denise Davis says
This was my first time making a soup and hands down, it was one of the best soups I've ever had! The recipe was super easy to follow, the instructions clear and concise. It was sooo delicious! Thank you!
Yay!! 😀 You're very welcome, Denise!
Amy F says
One of my family’s favorite go-to soups! I make a big pot of shredded chicken in the instapot for meals for the week and use leftovers for this soup! One question I had was, when I make this it never turns out thick? I know it’s not suppose to be too think, but I don’t see any difference when I add the flour? Is there something I’m doing wrong?
Fantastic! I don't think you're doing anything wrong. The flour does thicken the broth a little bit, but also the starch from the orzo helps to thicken it up too. You could probably get away without using the flour, especially if you're planning on having some for leftovers.
Gretchen Kostura says
My kids, husband and I all enjoyed this which is rare! Definitely will make again. Perfect winter meal. Added frozen peas because on of the few veggies my kids are happy to eat.