This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is loaded with tender chicken, hearty vegetables, and a delicious, refreshing lemon broth that is just the thing for cold weather days! It's simple and easy to make, and fantastic with a loaf of crusty bread on the side.

We love soup season and probably make it at least once a week when the weather is chilly. If you're looking for some more amazing soup recipes, be sure to try out our Easy Minestrone Soup, Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage, or maybe our Cheeseburger Soup with Bacon.

A dutch oven filled with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup topped with green onion and parsley.

Whether the temperature is cooling down, someone you love is feeling under the weather, or you are just craving a cozy bowl of soup, this lemon chicken orzo soup is the answer! This soup has a bold, refreshing flavor profile and is basically pure comfort in a bowl. It's a twist on classic chicken noodle soup but even better.

The chicken is tender and juicy and paired with the lemon broth makes it the perfect refreshing yet cozy bowl of soup for any occasion. It's a wholesome, healthy dinner that also warms up great for fantastic leftovers the next day.

You can serve the soup as is or over a pile of chopped spinach that will wilt quickly from the heat of the soup! Quick, easy, hearty, and sure to be a hit for the whole family.

Why We Love this Recipe

  • You can use a rotisserie chicken from the store to save time for a quick weeknight meal.
  • The lemony broth tastes extra nourishing and savory.
  • Orzo pasta has a kid-friendly, almost rice-like shape that cooks quickly in the hot broth.
  • Soups are a great way to get in extra veggies and this one is loaded! The mushrooms and zucchini are great ways to add in those extra veggies without really noticing the texture!

Ingredient Notes

  • Chicken breasts: cooked and shredded. A rotisserie chicken is also a great option if you're in a pinch for time.
  • Serrano pepper: to give this soup a wonderful kick. If you don't like spice, just adjust the amount of pepper you put in or omit all together.
  • Veggies: Shredding carrots and zucchini to add to the soup along with onions and mushrooms creates a wonderful depth of flavor in the broth.
  • Lemon: Be sure to zest your lemon before squeezing it. It's very hard (almost impossible) to zest a lemon after it has been juiced.
  • Orzo pasta: The size of the orzo pasta makes for a perfect bite every time. This could be replaced with white or brown rice or even some beans to bulk up the soup if you don't have orzo pasta on hand.

How to Make this Recipe

  1. Prep all ingredients, per the ingredient list. Grate the carrots and zucchini, chop the mushrooms, onions, parsley, etc. Cooking always goes so much better when you get everything prepped before you start cooking.
  2. Sautee the first batch of veggies. In a large soup pot melt the butter over medium high heat. Then saute the onions, carrots, celery, and serrano pepper until the onions start to soften and turn translucent.
  3. Add in the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms are softened and the onions have begun to caramelize.
  1. Add in the zucchini, salt, and spices.
  2. Zest and juice the lemon, and add all of the lemon zest and juice to the vegetables. Make sure none of the seeds are left inside of the lemons, then drop the whole juiced/zested lemons into the pot for even more lemon flavor. They will be removed before serving but help infuse the soup with more lemony flavor. I like to hold half of my lemon juice in reserve for adjusting the flavor of the soup later in case we want it more lemony.
  3. Add chicken broth and water. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  1. Remove the lemons. Give them a squeeze with a pair of tong first and add in the dry orzo pasta and shredded chicken.
  2. Let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender and al dente.
  3. Add in the chopped green onion and parsley. Taste the soup and adjust the salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed. 

Recipe FAQ's

How do I store leftover soup?

This soup can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3-4 days. Simply reheat in the microwave on the stovetop. This soup also freezes well in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Be sure to thaw before reheating. I like using these Souper Cubes to freeze perfectly portioned servings so I can reheat only as much as I want each time.

Can I use a different pasta or rice besides orzo?

Sure! You'll just want to adjust the cooking time according to the packaging of your pasta. Ditalini, small shells, or acini de pepe would be my top recommendations. An equal amount of rice will also work.

What sides go well with this soup?

You can't go wrong with a good slice of crusty bread dipped in soup. Some great options are this Homemade French Bread, my super popular No-Knead Artisan Bread, or these Soft Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks.

Recipe Tips

  • Get the most out of your lemon! Adding the full lemon into the soup for the first simmer is a great way to infuse the max amount of lemon flavor. You should remove it after the first simmer though, because if you leave it in for too long you risk the lemon flavor becoming bitter from the white part of the lemon skin/rind.
  • Don't underestimate the orzo! Orzo is a noodle that really grows while cooking, ½ cup may not seem like enough, but it is! The longer the soup sits, the bigger the noodles will get, soaking up a lot of the broth!
  • Don't like spice? It's okay to omit the serrano pepper or sub for hot sauce (to taste) if you don't have it on hand or are extremely spice averse. This soup is not actually spicy (my kids didn't even notice), but the pepper adds a really nice subtle warmth and makes it an excellent cold buster!
  • Optional but recommended: Place a handful of fresh chopped spinach into the bottom of your soup bowl, ladle the hot soup over the top and mix together. The spinach pairs beautifully with the lemon in the soup and gives you a nice fresh flavor that compliments the richness of the soup! My kids prefer the soup without the spinach, but I really enjoy it this way.
Lemon chicken orzo soup in a white bowl topped with parsley and fried mushrooms.

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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

5 from 15 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4 -6 servings
This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is loaded with tender chicken, hearty vegetables, and a delicious, refreshing lemon broth that is just the thing for cold weather days! It's simple and easy to make, and fantastic with a loaf of crusty bread on the side.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • 1 large red onion chopped or shredded
  • 1 ½ cups shredded carrots
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced
  • 6-8 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken breasts or a rotisserie chicken, cooked and shredded
  • ½ cup dry orzo pasta
  • 3-4 green onions chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons chopped Fresh parsley
  • **Optional- Chopped Spinach 1 handful per person
  • **Optional Garnish parsley, green onion, or fried mushrooms

Instructions
 

  • Prep all ingredients, per the ingredient list.
  • In a large soup pot melt the butter over medium high heat. Then saute the onions, carrots, celery, and serrano pepper, until the onions are translucent and beginning to get soft. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute for about 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms are softened and the onions have begun to caramelize.
  • Add in the zucchini and season with the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, and black pepper. Zest and juice the lemons, and add all of the lemon zest and half of the juice, reserving the remaining lemon juice to adjust the flavor of the soup at the end to your liking. Make sure none of the seeds are left inside of the lemons, then drop the whole juiced/zested lemon into the pot and mix.
  • Add in the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the lemons (give the lemons a squeeze into the soup with a pair of tongs) and add in the chicken and orzo pasta. Let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender.
  • Add in the chopped green onion and parsley. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, or add more lemon juice if you prefer. 
  • Serve immediately!

Notes

  • Optional: Place a handful of fresh chopped spinach into the bottom of your soup bowl, ladle the hot soup over the top and mix together. The spinach pairs beautifully with the lemon in the soup and gives you a nice fresh flavor that compliments the richness of the soup!
  • Freezing: I recommend freezing this soup in individual portions so you only need to reheat as much as you want.
  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 1891mg | Potassium: 1292mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 8637IU | Vitamin C: 70mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This soup is so flavorful and definitely lighter than some of our chicken soup recipes. I just loved how bright and delicious is is.

  2. 5 stars
    My husband has been under the weather so I made this bright and cheery soup for him. He loved it. Made him feel better too. He asked me to make it anytime he isn't feeling well.

  3. 5 stars
    What a perfect and comforting recipe for a chilly day! We made this when the weather changed last week, and everyone came back for seconds.

  4. 5 stars
    Make this lemon orzo soup with a rotisserie chicken from Costco and it came out delicious. Super easy and flavorful! This is a keeper.

  5. 5 stars
    So yummy! The whole family loved it. I had fresh thyme and rosemary so I used those instead, otherwise I followed the instructions exactly. Will be making this again for sure!

  6. 5 stars
    LOVED this soup! So flavorful with all of that bright lemony flavor and took your tip of adding a handful of spinach to the bottom of the bowls! A delicious, must make again recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    Made this last week and the kids LOVED it!! I swear I could eat soup every day! This one is going in heavy rotation!

  8. Mmmmmmm,making this tomorrow as temps. here in NH are dipping to -7° with wind chill at -25°. Will also make cranberry muffins with cranberries I picked myself!