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This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is bright and springy, and fun to make! Light and tangy, nourishing and delicious!
Here’s a light and nourishing soup to celebrate the changing ot the season – Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, inspired by spring! It’s still a little chilly outside, but the bright and zesty flavors of this soup sing of what’s to come. Brothy, flavorful, and nourishing, it’s incredibly warming with a cheeriness from the lemon and dill. Coriander, gives a unique earthiness and makes this recipe shine.
The best part is it makes good use of the leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken from last night’s dinner or feel free to start from scratch.
Lemon chicken orzo soup Ingredient notes
- Chicken and chicken stock-leftover whole chicken works great (use the meat and create chicken stock) or use chicken breast or chicken thigh. I like to make this whole roasted chicken for one meal, then turn the leftovers into this soup. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken.
- Orzo Pasta – Feel free to use rice or quinoa if you prefer.
- Veggies: Carrots and Celery
- Lemons add a delicious brightness. Meyer lemons are delightful here!
- Fresh Dill – for fresh spring flavor.
- Toasted Coriander Seeds give a unique earthy flavor that pairs well with lemon and dill. Feel free to sub ground coriander.
See the recipe card for full ingredient details.
How to make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
If using a leftover whole roasted chicken, simmer it whole with salt and bay leaves in 10 cups of water, for 1 hour. (See recipe notes for using breast or thighs & starting from scratch).
As you can see here, there is not much chicken meat left. But surprisingly, there is enough for a good pot of soup.
Ensure you have at least 1-2 cups of chicken meat. It will surprise you…. how much more you get.
Wipe out the pot, and sauté onion in oil, over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, celery and carrots. Once the celery is tender pour in the chicken stock and the chicken meat.
Add Orzo and let simmer uncovered, occasionally stirring for about 10-15 minutes, or until orzo is done. At this point soup will still seem pretty brothy, but it will thicken up.
Once the orzo is cooked through, add a 1/4 -1/2 cup fresh dill and lemon juice and lemon zest.
If your soup is bland, it probably needs more of each. As a last resort, you can always add a chicken bouillon cube to bump up the flavor.
Chicken soup for every soul!
Chicken Soups around the GlobE
- In France, typical seasonings include bay leaves, fresh thyme, dry white wine and garlic.
- In Germany homemade chicken soup consists of chicken broth with dumplings or spaetzle added to it.
- In Greece, chicken soup is thickened with a mixture of eggs and lemon and is called Avgolemono.
- China has its version with the addition of ginger, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil.
- In Columbia, they have a chicken soup called Ajiaco. Along with the chicken, Ajiaco typically includes corn and potatoes, garnished with avocado and a dollop of cream. Doesn’t that sound good?
- Chicken soup is a traditional dish in the Jewish kitchen. There are several versions but one version is prepared with herbs like parsley, dill or thyme and served with matzah balls.
- Samgyetang is a Korean chicken soup with Korean ginseng, dried jujube fruits, garlic, ginger, rice and sometimes other medicinal herbs.
- In Mexico, Sopa de Lima is flavored with fresh lime, Mexican oregano and fresh cilantro.
- Polish Chicken soup is served with fine noodles and sometimes ground almonds in the broth.
- Scotland has a popular version called cock-a-leekie, flavored with… you got it, leeks. 🙂
I hope you enjoy and please let us know what you think in the comments below.
More Chicken Soup Recipes you may enjoy
- Feel Better Chicken Soup
- Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
- Kale, Chickpea and Chicken Soup with Rosemary Croutons
- Moroccan Chicken Lentil Soup with Saffron and Preserved Lemon
- Instant Pot Chicken Artichoke Soup with Wild Rice
- Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken and White Bean Soup
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Paleo Chicken & Wonton Soup with Bok Choy
- Mexican Pozole Verde
- Instant Pot Chicken Pozole
This Chicken Orzo Soup is enhanced with lemon, coriander and dill. Bright and springy, this soup is tangy, light and delicious!
- 1 left-over roasted chicken with at least 1-2 cups meat left on it. ( Or sub 8–12 ounces chicken breast and 8 cups chicken stock -see notes)
- 10 cups water
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 tsp salt, more to taste
- 1 extra large onion or 2 leeks, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1–2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted coriander seeds (or 1 tablespoon ground coriander)
- 2 lemons (1/4-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest)
- 1 cup dry orzo ( If you want thicker soup you could add 1/2 – 1 cup more orzo. Basically, if you are serving all the soup right away, use more orzo. If you are saving some soup for the next day, the orzo will quadruple in size leaving you with no broth. Up to you.)
- 1/4 cup chopped dill, more for garnish
- Garnish: Dollop Sour Cream (optional) or creme fraiche and sprig of dill
- Pour 10 cups water over chicken carcass w/ 2 bay leaves, onion, and 2 tsp salt and simmer covered for 1 hour. (You could do this ahead and store in the fridge over night.) See notes if using chicken breasts and stock.
- Strain over a large bowl, reserving stock and meat. Let cool. With your fingers, separate meat from the bones, discarding the bones, and breaking up the meat into smaller bite-size pieces. You should have 1-2 cups of chicken meat left. With your fingers, double and triple-check for small bones.
- In a heavy bottom pot, sauté onion in oil, over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, celery and carrots. Once celery is tender add in the chicken stock and the chicken meat. Toast your Coriander seeds and crush them and add them to the soup along with lemon zest. Bring to a simmer.
- Add Orzo and let simmer uncovered stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. At this point soup will still seem pretty brothy, but it will thicken up. Once the orzo is cooked through, add a 1/4 C chopped fresh dill and juice from one lemon.
- Taste and add more salt and lemon to taste. If it is bland, add more of each, or try a chicken bouillon cube as a last resort.
- Serve with a sprig of dill and a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.
If you want thicker soup you could add ½ cup – 1 cup more orzo. Basically, if you are serving all the soup right away, use more orzo. If you are saving some soup for the next day, the orzo will quadruple in size leaving you with no broth. Up to you. 😉 You can always, cook the sorzo separately, keep it separate until serving.
If making soup with chicken thighs ( Bone in, skin on works great) or chicken breasts. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a heavy bottom pot, over medium-high heat, brown the chicken in olive oil, on each side til golden and fragrant, then set aside (no need to cook through). In the same pot sauté onion in oil until tender and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, celery and carrots and continue sautéing 3- 4 more minutes. Add 8 cups chicken stock, add the bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and the chicken and bring to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits, simmering gently, uncovered until the chicken is cooked through and pulls apart easily with two forks, about 20-30 minutes.
In the meantime, toast the Coriander seeds and crush them and add them to the soup along the orzo and let simmer uncovered, occasionally stirring for about 10 more minutes or until orzo is done. Season with salt and pepper. At this point soup will still seem pretty brothy, but it will thicken up (see notes) Once the orzo is cooked through, add fresh dill, zest and juice from one lemon.
Taste and add more salt and lemon to taste. If it is bland, it needs both.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 198
- Sugar: 1.1 g
- Sodium: 1631.3 mg
- Fat: 8.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 13.5 g
- Fiber: 1.5 g
- Protein: 16.5 g
- Cholesterol: 99.1 mg
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