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Craving something bright and flavorful? This lemon chicken orzo soup is packed with tender chicken, fluffy orzo pasta, and a zesty lemon broth for a comforting meal.

Lemon chicken orzo soup
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Here’s a meal that’s the equivalent of sunshine in a bowl: lemon chicken orzo soup! Zingy citrus always lifts our spirits, and this one is almost guaranteed to make your day brighter. We’ve packed this new soup recipe with tender shredded chicken and fluffy orzo, all in a zesty lemon broth seasoned with garlic, oregano and dill. Shower it with fresh dill or parsley and it’s the perfect easy dinner (that keeps on giving with leftovers!).

Ingredients in lemon chicken orzo soup

Lemon chicken orzo soup comes together in 45 minutes, so you can make it on a weeknight or meal prep it for eating throughout the week. The chicken breast cooks in the broth, then you’ll remove it and shred it while cooking the orzo in the broth. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this simple soup:

  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Vegetables: Onion, carrots, celery, garlic
  • Chicken broth
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Spices: oregano, dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • Fresh lemon, juice and zest (a Microplane grater is easiest for zesting a lemon)
  • Orzo pasta
  • Fresh parsley or dill, to garnish

How to shred chicken

The best way we’ve found to shred chicken is to pull it into strips using your fingers. That’s right, no fancy tools required: simply use your hands to pull it into shreds! We tried the two-forks method and the stand mixer method, and the good old fashioned way won. It makes the best shreds and takes no time at all.

This lemon orzo chicken soup cooks the chicken by simmering it in the soup broth before shredding it. To make shredded chicken on its own for tacos, enchiladas, sandwiches, and more, go to How to Make Shredded Chicken.

How to shred chicken

Tips for making lemon chicken orzo soup

Lemon chicken orzo soup is a great easy dinner recipe: it’s simple to make and works well to meal prep. Here are a few tips for the process:

  • Use a food thermometer to assess whether the chicken is done. Simmer the soup until it’s cooked through and the temperature is 165°F when measured with a food thermometer.
  • Shred the chicken while the orzo cooks, 8 to 9 minutes. You’ll remove the chicken from the simmering pot, then let it rest 5 minutes before shredding it with your fingers. Use this time to cook the orzo pasta in the soup broth. Cooking time for orzo can vary, but it’s typically 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh dill or parsley. The fresh herbs make the soup! We like fresh dill best, because of its delicate citrusy flavor. But parsley works well and is cheaper.
Chicken orzo soup in bowl with pot

Buy organic chicken if possible

When shopping for shredded chicken, keep this in mind: the best chicken to buy is organic. Buying organic makes sure that it is the highest quality meat that was raised sustainably. It is also free of chemicals and additives so it’s the healthiest option for eating, and overall: it just tastes better!

Per the USDA, organic chicken must be raised in living conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors (like grazing on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not given antibiotics or hormones.

Storage and make ahead info

Store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days; the orzo absorbs liquid over time, so may need to add another splash of water and pinch of salt when reheating. For meal prep, you can make the entire soup in advance and then reheat by adding water and a bit more salt. (If desired, you could also prep up to Step 3, then before serving add the orzo in Step 4 and cook.)

Lemon chicken orzo soup

Sides for lemon chicken orzo soup

How to make it a meal? Pair a salad recipe or bread with this chicken orzo soup for an easy meal in any season. Whip up the salad while the soup is simmering. We love it with a crisp green salad like our simple arugula salad, and for an even more stunning dinner you could accessorize a radicchio salad or endive salad.

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Lemon chicken orzo soup

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
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Description

Craving something bright and flavorful? This lemon chicken orzo soup is packed with tender chicken, fluffy orzo pasta, and a zesty lemon broth for a comforting meal.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups peeled and sliced carrots (4 large or 6 medium)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced celery (about 3 to 4 ribs)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, plus the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ¼ cups orzo (about 8 ounces)
  • Chopped fresh parsley or fresh dill, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. 
  2. Stir in the broth, water, whole chicken breasts, oregano, dill, garlic powder, and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken reads 165°F when measured with a food thermometer.
  3. Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board, then discard the skin and bone and allow to rest 5 minutes. Shred the chicken while the orzo is cooking (in the next step), by using your fingers to pull it into small pieces.
  4. Meanwhile, add the orzo to the pot with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook until the orzo is tender, about 8 to 9 minutes. 
  5. Once the orzo is tender, turn off the heat and stir in the chicken. Taste and add up to ½ teaspoon kosher salt if desired and fresh ground black pepper. Serve warm, with fresh chopped parsley or dill. Store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days; the orzo absorbs liquid over time, so may need to add another splash of water and pinch of salt when reheating.*

Notes

*For meal prep, you can make the entire soup in advance and then reheat by adding water and a bit more salt. (If desired, you could also prep up to Step 3, then before serving add the orzo in Step 4 and cook.)

  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chicken

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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13 Comments

  1. Maggie says:

    Can confirm, this is sunshine in a bowl and the perfect spring soup (: Making another batch for my sister-in-law for after she gives birth this week!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank you for making it!

  2. Nancy says:

    Loved this soup as did everyone in my family. Doesn’t take long to make it and the lemon flavor was just the right touch. Thanks for the recipe!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  3. Debra says:

    Thank you Alex for your response to my print issues!! Although it appears to be just issue on my iPhone for your site I’m glad I can print recipes from my iPad! Will be making the Lemon Orzo Soup this week!

  4. Debra says:

    Well well twice I made a comment one to reply to Suzan and the other to inquire about the lack of a decent print format for the recipes and neither comment showed up! Why may I ask when basically there is a legitimate issue here?!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi Debra! Just getting around to answering comments for the week. Thanks for reading!

  5. Debra Ulrich says:

    Again- what’s up with printed layout of columns instead of a full page?!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I’m not seeing this issue. Can you email us a screenshot at email@acouplecooks.com?

  6. Suzan Wilson says:

    I’m a big fan of your newsletter, recipes, cookbook – everything really ! No complaints about CONTENT, or about your perspective on food. What I would comment upon is how the ever-increasing/endless proliferation of little ads, mostly “video” style have taken over this site ! They move around, are visually distracting, and quite honestly intrusive. I find this entire aspect to be at odds with your supposed world-view.

    Most of us are very aware of how challenging it is for “business” like yours to earn revenue from your beautiful “free” newsletters… BUT don’t you think there is some way to square the circle ? The occasional pop-up/video “ad” which is somehow related to you or your recipes wouldn’t be so awful — it’s the fact that most all these video intrusions have ZERO relationship to you, your foods, or anything at all that could be considered relevant to your alleged world.

    Sad — Meantime I KNOW the cookbook(s) don’t have these visually distracting nightmares plastered all over them.






    1. Debra says:

      AdBlocker will take care of all of that

      1. Alex Overhiser says:

        Though the the ads pay for the free recipes on this site! We do try to balance user experience with the ads. Creating recipes is our full time job and the ads allow us to make it happen.

  7. Donalda Perry says:

    Haven’t made it yet i’m going to it sound’s so good.