Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

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With tender chicken and orzo in every bite, Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup comes together fast. Make it in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop. Lemon makes it a fresh twist on classic chicken noodle soup.

a bowl of chicken and orzo soup on a grey countertop

I’m so excited to share this incredibly simple soup with you. There are few things as comforting as chicken noodle soup, but this recipe is a fresh take on the classic. The game-changers here are the rice-sized orzo pasta which fit perfectly on a spoon and the lemon juice. Oh that lemon juice! If the temps are getting colder, or if you’re feeling under the weather, or you just want a different flavor in your cozy soup bowl, this soup is for you.

Making it in the Instant Pot helps the pasta and aromatics to come to tender perfection in just one bowl and helps to develop flavor in the broth. But the stovetop works just fine too!

Dinner is served!

How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

  1. Saute aromatics. Saute diced onion in olive oil (in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop).
  2. Add stock and seasoning. To the onions, add diced carrots, garlic, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and uncooked orzo pasta. 
  3. Simmer. Cook in the Instant Pot for 2 minutes or simmer on the stovetop until the orzo is tender.
  4. Add chicken and lemon juice. Stir in shredded cooked chicken and fresh lemon juice.
  5. Top with chopped parsley and / or freshly grated parmesan cheese. 
  6. Enjoy!

What is Orzo Pasta?

Orzo pasta is a bite-sized pasta in the shape of rice. It cooks in 8 to 10 minutes and can be drained to serve on its own, served in soups, or cooked in small amount of liquid until tender for a dish that looks similar to Italian risotto. This is the method I use for Creamy One-Pot Orzo and One Pan Chicken and Orzo with Spinach.

ingredients for soup on a grey countertop

Ingredients

  • Chicken – Use shredded, cooked chicken breast or thighs here. I like to use rotisserie chicken, but leftover cooked chicken works well.
  • Orzo – Orzo is a raw pasta shaped like grains of rice. They are so small that it’s easiest to measure it in a measuring cup.
  • Chicken Broth – I like to use regular, not low-sodium, broth to give the simple soup maximum flavor. Use your favorite brand or homemade chicken stock.
  • Onions and Carrots – Classic flavorings for the broth of the soup.
  • Garlic and Italian Seasoning – These build flavor as the soup cooks. 
  • Lemon Juice – This is the key! Don’t skimp on the lemon juice and add more if you’d like even more lemony flavor. 

Make-Ahead or Freeze

This soup can be made ahead and freezes well. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. To freeze, let it cool to room temperature and then transfer to freezer safe containers. Freeze for up to 4 months.

lemon chicken orzo soup freezer label

Printable Freezer Label

Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!

Print Freezer Label
soup in the bowl of an instant pot

Variations

  • Add vegetables – Extra vegetables will add flavor to the soup. Try yellow bell peppers or add some diced potatoes and fresh corn to give it a similar flavor to corn chowder
  • Make it vegetarian – This recipe is delicious with lentils, chickpeas, or white beans instead of the chicken. 
  • Make it creamy – Try stirring in some heavy cream with the lemon juice to give the soup an extra creamy base. 

a ladle of chicken orzo soup over an instant pot

FAQs

Can I use bottled lemon juice?

You definitely can, though it won’t have quite the same bright lemon flavor as fresh. 

Can I use a different pasta shape?

Yes! Just check the cook time on the pasta and adjust to let it cook as long as needed.

Can I make it vegetarian?

Yes! Add drained and rinsed white beans instead of chicken (I love it this way).

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5 from 5 votes

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

With tender chicken and orzo in every bite, this simple soup comes together fast. Lemon juice makes it a fresh twist on classic chicken noodle soup.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker

Ingredients 

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups diced carrots (to save time, substitute pre-shredded carrots)
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (like from a rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • chopped parsley, plain yogurt, and / or freshly grated parmesan cheese, for topping

Instructions 

  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan or in the bowl of an Instant Pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook the onion, stirring frequently, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, garlic, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and uncooked orzo.
  • If using an Instant Pot, close and lock the lid. Set the steam valve to Sealing. Cook on manual / high pressure for 2 minutes. (Note: Because there is a large amount of liquid in the Instant Pot, it may take up to 25 minutes for the machine to come to pressure.) Manually release the pressure. (Tip: Cover the valve with a dish towel first to prevent hot liquids from spraying out as the pressure releases.)
  • If cooking on the stovetop, bring the broth to a simmer. Simmer until the orzo is tender, 5 to 7 mimutes.
  • Stir in the chicken and lemon juice. Taste the soup and season with some salt and black pepper, if needed.
  • Serve with parsley, yogurt, and / or parmesan cheese on top.

Notes

 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 1327mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 7158IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00
Calories: 258
Keyword: chicken soup, easy recipe, easy soup, instant pot, instant pot soup, soup recipe, winter recipe
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

5 from 5 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    super easy to make and tastes good. had a chicken i bought at costco just used up some of that and garden carrots. super cheap to make and got alot of servings out of it.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this tonight for dinner and it was a hit! I made the stove top variation and it was a filling meal with enough for lunches tomorrow. I also made your garlic Hawaiian rolls to go with it and everything was perfect! Thank you!