Healthy lemon chicken soup with orzo is a delicious combination of flavors from fresh lemon juice, homemade chicken broth, and Italian seasonings. Our all-time favorite soup for chilly winter nights!
How often do you make soup at home?
When nights are cold I really crave a warm bowl of soup with some crusty bread like homemade focaccia. It is so satisfying and truly gives a feeling of warmth.
Here, I am going to share with you a lemon orzo chicken soup recipe that you can prepare at home from scratch. I mean even the homemade chicken broth for the soup base. This recipe is so simple and easy to prepare. You will need just a little extra time to cook the chicken, that’s all.
Let’s get started!
Ingredients you will need!
- Chicken – For this recipe, I am using chicken drumsticks. Remove skins and then use them to prepare the soup base.
- Orzo – this small-sized pasta works great for making soups.
- Garlic – it adds nice flavors and aroma to the soup. Peel and simply smash it. No need to finely chop.
- Onion – half of it is needed to prepare the soup base or chicken broth and the remaining half would go into the soup.
- Celery – trim off the ends and dice into small pieces.
- Carrot – peel, and dice into small pieces
- Oil – I always use olive oil that one can use for sauteing and grilling
- Seasonings – for the flavors use Italian seasonings, black pepper, and salt.
How to cut and prepare veggies?
For making the chicken broth or the soup base you can peel and smash the whole garlic cloves, cut the onion into larger pieces. This will save you some time during prep.
For the actual soup, peel and dice carrot, celery, and bell pepper into small and even pieces. These multi-colored veggies will also give a nice look to the dish, apart from their nutrients.
Homemade chicken broth for the lemon orzo soup
Making quick homemade chicken broth or stock will add an amazing flavor to the soup. It is way better than using bullion or packaged chicken broth. For making this soup base you only need a few mins of prep time however, the cooking time would be a bit longer.
It’s not at all necessary to make this chicken broth at home-I do it because I love the fresh flavors. You can use store-bought broth or bullion to flavor the soup if you so prefer.
How long to cook orzo in a soup?
Cooking pasta in soups can easily overcook them as it is going to remain in the hot soup base even after the cooking is over.
Therefore, always cook the orzo or other small-sized pasta about halfway in the soup. Then turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. The hot liquid base will continue to cook the pasta. This way you will get the perfect texture of the orzo without overcooking them.
How to make Healthy Lemon Chicken Soup With Orzo
- In a medium to large dutch oven or soup pot cook diced onion, carrot, celery, and pepper for 3-4 mins. Take them out and keep aside.
- In the same pot add a little more oil, smashed garlic cloves, and chunks of remaining onion and saute until translucent.
- Now add the chicken and cook for 3-4 min to get a light brown crust. Then add water, bring the mixture to a boil, and season with salt & pepper. Cook the mixture covered on low heat to get the chicken broth for the soup.
- Using a small strainer or wire skimmer take out the chicken and onion pieces leaving behind the clear broth.
- Now in the boiling broth add raw orzo, sauteed carrot-celery mixture, Italian seasoning, and cook the mixture for a few mins. Here, the pasta cooking time would depend on the package instructions. Cook the pasta in the soup for about half the time mentioned on its package.
- While orzo is being cooked separate the chicken from its bone and then shred using a couple of forks. Then add this shredded chicken back to the soup. Adjust salt, if necessary.
- Once the cooking time is over, remove the soup pot from the heat.
- Add lemon juice and garnish with freshly chopped parsley. And the soup is ready to enjoy.
- A warm bowl of chicken soup with orzo is itself perfect for a light meal.
- Serve homemade dinner rolls or whole wheat focaccia bread or crusty bread on the side of it for a filling dinner
- Make a simple healthy salad with avocado and cucumber or your favorite green salad to go with the soup.
- Chicken – here in this recipe I used chicken drumsticks to prepare the soup base. However, you can also use boneless or bone-in chicken thighs. I would suggest removing the skin to lower the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol. Also, boneless chicken thigh may take slightly less time to cook compared to chicken drumsticks.
- Orzo – you can also use whole wheat-based orzo to make the dish wholesome.
Veggies – add diced bell peppers, greens like spinach or kale, broccoli florets into the soup for making it more colorful and nutritious.
If you want to make a meatless version then try this nutritious Veggie Pasta Soup with Italian flavors.
How to reheat leftover lemon chicken orzo soup?
Simply bring the leftover soup to boil. Add water and adjust seasonings if necessary. Turn off the heat and serve while it is warm. Do not keep it on the heat or boil it for a longer time. It will overcook the orzo and toughen the meat.
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Healthy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- In a large dutch oven heat 1 teaspoon oil on medium heat and then saute.
- Add diced onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and saute for 3-4 min. Then take them out and keep aside
- Now in the same pan add remaining oil, smashed garlic, and roughly chopped onion. Saute them for 1-2 min.
- Add chicken drumsticks and cook them for 3-4 mins.
- Then add water and bring mixture to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer the mixture on low heat for 25 mins.
- Using a small strainer or wire skimmer, take out the chicken, large pieces of onion, etc. in a large plate or bowl leaving behind liquid broth.
- In the liquid broth add orzo, sauteed celery and carrot mixture, Italian seasonings, and cook the mixture for 4 mins.
- Meanwhile, use a fork to separate the meat from its bones and shred into small pieces. Then add the shredded chicken back to the soup mixture. Also, add about 1-2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Once the cooking is over, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.
- In soup dishes always cook pasta partially about for 3-4 min less than that mentioned on its package. Because the hot soup base will continue to cook the pasta even after turning off the heat.
- Also, do not forget to remove the soup pot from the heat after the cooking is over. Else, it may overcook the orzo.
- Preferably, use freshly squeezed lemon juice. I feel it makes a difference to the taste.
- You can skip adding bell pepper to the soup if it’s not one of your favorite choices.