With a light and zesty broth, this lemon chicken orzo soup is the perfect comforting recipe for a chilly fall night. Every spoonful is hearty and cozy thanks to lots of veggies and aromatic herbs like thyme and rosemary.
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Light & Healthy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
With a refreshing herb broth, this lemon chicken orzo soup with sweet carrots and bitter kale is like chicken noodle soup on steroids. Loaded with your favorite chicken broth, this pot is the perfect recipe for chilly fall nights when you’re feeling under the weather or need a boost of nutrients.
Cooked with olive oil for a healthy fat, the juicy chicken and silky leeks are browned and then simmered until ultra cozy. Garlic, thyme, and rosemary add a wonderful aroma, giving every spoonful of soup a slight Italian flair from the combination of ingredients. Brightened with a drizzle of lemon juice, it’s pure bliss on a weeknight.
Ready in 30 minutes and filled with chewy orzo, don’t forget to top it with freshly grated parmesan. It makes all the difference! Kept simple or made spicy, it’ll be your new favorite dinner in no time.
Why You’ll Love This Chicken Orzo Soup with Lemon
Whoever said chicken soup is for the soul was and always will be right, except this version with orzo is way better.
- Healthy. It’s packed with nutrients to help strengthen your immune system and keep you full all day. It’s also a great recipe for when you’re feeling under the weather.
- Homemade. You’ll stop buying soup at the store or restaurant once you’ve tried it. It’s super easy to make and tastes way better. Plus, you can add more of your favorite ingredients.
- Freezer-friendly. Double or triple the recipe and keep the leftovers in the freezer for a quick dinner later on.
- Family-friendly. Change the veggies, make it spicy, or swap some ingredients to make sure everyone’s happy.
What You’ll Need
A bowl of soup with chicken, leeks, kale, and herbs is always super comforting. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Olive oil – Feel free to use coconut, avocado, corn, or canola oil.
- Chicken breasts – Boneless chicken is easier to work with, but you can use bone-in too.
- Leeks – Always soak them in water first to remove any dirt.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic adds more fragrance and favor, but garlic powder is fine too.
- Carrots – Full size sliced carrots, or baby carrots.
- Lemon juice – You can also use lime juice, but only add 1-2 tablespoons in that case.
- Lemon zest – Don’t use dried zest because it takes away from the soup’s freshness.
- Chicken broth – Veggie broth is a good swap. I prefer low-sodium versions.
- Orzo – Ditalini pasta is a great alternative.
- Fresh thyme – Only add half of the amount if you’re using dried thyme.
- Fresh rosemary – It adds wonderful aroma.
- Salt – You can also use Himalayan.
- Kale – Use fresh or frozen. Baby kale is another great option.
What is Orzo?
Orzo is a traditional pasta shape that looks like extra-large rice grains or even drops of water. It’s made and cooked just like regular pasta. It’s chewier and nuttier due to its small size. It also has more uses. Orzo is often added to soups, salads, and casseroles. It can also be served on its own with thick sauces.
How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Once you brown the chicken, it’s all about adding the ingredients to the pot in the right order. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.
- Brown the chicken. Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sautée it until browned on all sides.
- Throw in the veggies. Stir in the leeks, garlic, and carrots. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the broth. Pour in the chicken broth, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add the orzo. Stir and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Add the herbs. Mix in the thyme, rosemary, and salt. Cook everything for 8 minutes. Stir in the kale and let it cook for 1 more minute or until wilted.
- Serve. Remove it from the heat. Garnish it with parmesan cheese, serve, and enjoy.
Tips for Success
You can perfect and even improve any chicken orzo soup with lemon if you follow these easy tips.
- Go organic. Using organic chicken tends to give the soup more flavor compared to mass-produced chicken.
- Add richness. Swap the olive oil for butter and stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream once you remove the pot from the heat for a creamy version of this soup.
- Use homemade. If you have a recipe for homemade chicken or veggie broth, use it to make this recipe. Leftover broth works too.
- Toast the orzo. Add the orzo to a pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil over low heat. Stir it for 6-7 minutes or until lightly golden. Then remove it from the heat. Toasting it will help the orzo maintain its shape and texture.
- Change the veggies. You can use spinach instead of kale, and swap the carrots for sliced mushrooms or broccoli florets.
- Make it spicy. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper will give your soup a kick of heat.
What to Serve with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
This chicken orzo soup with lemon is the perfect dinner on its own. It’s got protein, carbs, and lots of veggies. However, you can definitely pair it with vegetable sides to make your meal healthier. I love it with my Air Fryer Green Beans, Grilled Sweet Potato Salad, or Corn on the Cob on the side.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Once fully cooled, refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To keep the orzo from soaking up all the soup, strain it and store the liquid in a separate container. Mix it in a bowl or pot right before reheating. To reheat it, pop it into the microwave for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a pot over medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, but freeze it without the orzo for the best texture. Freezing the orzo will soften it a lot and might turn your soup into a porridge when thawed. Store it in a freezer-friendly container in serving-size portions. Without orzo, freeze it for up to 3 months. Stir it in right before serving. With orzo, I only recommend freezing it for 1 month.
More Soup Recipes To Try
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Crockpot Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
- Creamy Instant Pot Potato Soup
- Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage
This easy lemon chicken orzo soup with kale and lots of fresh herbs is a 30-minute dinner you’ll love for chilly nights.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- 2 leeks, halved and sliced (soaked in water to remove the sand/grit)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. carrots, sliced
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 7 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 tablespooons fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- salt to season
- 4 cups kale, roughly chopped
- Heat a large dutch oven to medium high heat.
- Add olive oil and chicken cubes. Saute until chicken is cooked through, about 4-6 minutes.
- Add leeks, garlic, and carrots. Stir ingredients and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
- Next add lemon juice, lemon zest, and chicken broth. Bring to a slow simmer.
- Add in orzo, thyme, rosemary, and salt to season. Cook pasta for 8 minutes. Add in kale and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove soup from heat and serve!
- Optional: garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
- Calories: 179
- Sugar: 4 g
- Sodium: 220 mg
- Fat: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 11 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 21 g
- Cholesterol: 62 mg
Keywords: lemon chicken orzo soup, chicken orzo soup with lemon