Juicy shredded chicken breast, tender orzo pasta, and a hearty broth spiked with fresh lemon juice make this Chicken Orzo Soup a family favorite!
An Easy and Comforting Chicken Soup Recipe
Are you a chicken soup connoisseur? Do you care passionately about the whole range of possibilities, from classic chicken noodle soup to chicken corn chowder and matzoh ball soup?
Me too, friend, me too. ✋ Chicken soup is a nourishing, comforting, and best of all, scrumptious dish across cultures! You can make it as complex or as simple as you can imagine, and it can have any flavor profile, from East Asian to New England-an! It’s pretty amazing!
In this recipe, I’m going simple, simple, simple. We’re talking, make-this-on-Wednesday-night-after-practice simple. But, I’m not sacrificing flavor! With a fresh-chopped mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery), savory broth, lemon juice, and shredded chicken, this easy orzo soup is hearty and full-bodied.
What You’ll Need
Pro tip: This quick and easy recipe is even quicker if you go for pre-chopped veggies! But, it’s still amazing, any way you slice it… er, chop it?
- Olive Oil and Butter: For sauteing.
- Onion: Dice up a small onion. I usually use yellow onions, but any kind will do!
- Celery: You will need three celery stalks, washed and sliced.
- Carrots: Slice two large carrots into thin coins.
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
- Fresh Garlic: I like this soup to have a generous amount of garlic, to contrast with the tangy lemon. Mince or press about four cloves.
- Shredded Chicken: Leftover shredded cooked chicken is perfect for this recipe, or you can use rotisserie chicken!
- Dried Herbs: Dried rosemary, thyme, and oregano add instant flavor and fragrance, and look lovely in the finished soup!
- Broth: You will need eight to ten cups of good chicken broth. Either homemade or store-bought is fine. I usually go for low-sodium broth.
- Lemon: Juice one fresh lemon to add a bright citrus flavor to this savory dish.
- Bay Leaves: A couple of bay leaves add that special aroma to the soup broth.
- Orzo: I absolutely love this tiny pasta, especially in a rich chicken soup!
- Yellow Squash: Cut up one medium-sized yellow squash into rounds, and then cut each round into fourths.
- Parsley: Chopped fresh parsley is the perfect garnish.
- Lemon Wedges: For serving.
How to Make Chicken Orzo Soup
The secret to this recipe is making a very blonde roux with butter and onions, sans flour (still warding off those carbs).That’s a big reason why it turns out hearty and flavorful!
- Saute the Vegetables. Heat the oil and butter together in a 6-quart Dutch Oven set over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the diced onion, and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the sliced celery and carrots, season the veggies with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the Garlic, Chicken, and Seasonings. Next, stir in the garlic, and cook for about 15 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant. Follow the garlic with the shredded chicken, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, stirring everything to combine.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients and Simmer the Soup. Pour the chicken broth into the pot, along with the lemon juice. Drop in the two bay leaves. Increase the heat to high, so that the soup comes to a boil, and then add in your orzo and sliced squash. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the orzo is tender.
- Enjoy! Taste the finished soup for salt and pepper and adjust if needed. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
Tips for Success
Here are a few helpful tips for making great chicken orzo soup. Bon appetit! Or should I say “buon appetito?”
- Meal Prep Perfection: If you’re into meal prepping, keep in mind that this recipe is perfect for using pre-made shredded chicken (and hey, check out my easy tutorial on How to Boil Chicken for Meal Prep!).
- Swap the Pasta: No orzo? No problem! This recipe is also delicious with any small pasta, or with your favorite white rice.
- More Veggies: Lose the carbs entirely by making this recipe with extra veggies and no pasta! Spiralized zucchini are great, or any frozen veggies that you love.
What to Serve with Chicken Orzo Soup
A big bowl of chicken orzo soup is a meal in itself, but you can also fill out the menu with some tasty sides! Bread is always a good option, or try one of these recipes!
- A Grilled Cheese: Chicken soup with grilled cheese has got to be in the top ten coziest food combinations ever, right? But if you want something a little more gourmet, try adding fresh basil leaves and tiny grape tomato slices, as in this yummy Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
- Salad: Soup and salad, that iconic and healthy pairing! I like to serve something with a lot of contrast, like Very Berry Avocado Salad. The fresh berries, ripe avocado, baby spinach, and poppyseed dressing all marry together beautifully!
- Crackers: Add a crispy crunch to your bowl with some Garlic Parmesan Blue Cheese Crackers! (psa: these are totally customizable, so if blue cheese is not your thing, change it up!)
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftover soup, place in airtight soup containers and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
- To reheat, place the desired portion in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until just simmering.
Can I Freeze Chicken Orzo Soup?
- Sure, BUT, there’s just one thing: the pasta tends to become mushy and thick when the frozen soup thaws. SO, if you want to freeze a batch of this comforting orzo soup, just make the recipe as written, except for adding the orzo.
- Once the pasta-less soup is done, cool it down and pack it into freezer containers (be sure to leave a little room for the liquid to expand). Freeze for up to three months.
- Thaw the frozen soup overnight before heating, and then heat to a simmer. Add the orzo and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until tender.
Chicken Orzo Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 8 to 10 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 bay leaves
- ¾ cups uncooked orzo
- 1 yellow squash, sliced into rounds and each round cut into fourths
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Heat oil and melt butter in a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
- To the hot oil, add diced onion and cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in sliced celery and carrots; season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 15 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Stir in the shredded chicken.
- Add oregano, thyme, and rosemary; stir to combine.
- Stir in the chicken broth and lemon juice. Add bay leaves.
- Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Stir in orzo and sliced squash.
- Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender.
- Taste soup for salt and pepper; adjust accordingly.
- Ladle soup into bowls.
- Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.