Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth  – it’s pure comfort in a bowl!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

We’ve been having such gorgeous 70-degree weather out here in the Bay Area. I can finally run in my shorts and take long walks in my flip flops. But even in this perfect weather, I could still always use a bowl of chicken noodle soup. It doesn’t even matter if I’m sick with the flu or if I have the cleanest bill of health – this soup can be eaten any day of the week, any time of day!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

But don’t be fooled – this isn’t your ordinary chicken noodle soup. The traditional noodles are swapped out and orzo is used instead, which is a pasta shaped like a large grain of rice. And my favorite part about this soup is the freshly squeezed lemon juice. It’s pure comfort in a bowl with a hint of refreshing, lemony goodness. Plus, this comes together in just 30 minutes, filling the house with the most amazing aroma.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

So there you have it – quick, easy, hearty and sure to be a hit with the entire family. You can’t beat that!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Yield 6 servings

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  • Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, rosemary and chicken; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve immediately.


Adapted from foodiecrush


Why It’s A Smart Choice

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Servings Per Container 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 300.8 Calories from Fat 106.2
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11.8g 18%
Saturated Fat 2.6g 13%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 68.5mg 23%
Sodium 377.8mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 23.7g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1.8g 7%
Sugars 6.5g
Protein 23.9g 48%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

This is a whole, balanced meal in one bowl! In terms of nutrients, there’s a nice balance of protein, fat, carbs, and water. In terms of food groups, this soup has veggies, meat, and grains. Packing a balanced lunch doesn’t get any easier than taking a bowl of this soup to work or school!

Nutritional information provided by Jessica Penner, RD at Smart Nutrition.


    • Chung-Ah says

      It’s funny because after I wrote out this post, it’s been raining cats and dogs since! And the red pot – it’s my new favorite. I had to invest in it a little bit since I couldn’t find this color at TJ Maxx/Marshall’s but it’s worth every single penny.

  1. Laureen says

    It’s raining here in Massachusetts so this will be perfect for dinner! Thanks for the spin on a classic!

  2. Diane Law says

    I’m so excited about your recipes. You’re doing such an amazing job. We came from Hawaii, and have missed the food ever since. The only place in the world that came close was the food in San Francisco. Chinese, Korean, and Thai food was everywhere in Honolulu. I’ve been trying to find my way back home ever since… Your recipes are helping….Thanks!!

    I have a question for you….There was a restaurant that had the most amazing Mandarin Chinese food. One of my favorite dishes was called Dry Fried Beef. It was crunchy marinated meat, similar to sesame beef; but, it was not saucy and not as sweet. It was breaded and sort of deep fried, and chewy, and to die for. Can you track something down in your travels, maybe?? I’ve searched everywhere to find a recipe….

  3. robin says

    Love, love, this one! Its a major hit in my household. If you are looking for new soup recipe to wow your family with, this is it.

  4. MaryAnne says

    I’d just worked out that orzo is what we call risoni. And you confirmed it for me. Unlike you, we in the Southern Hemisphere, are fast heading into Winter (Autumn is already here with its variable weather), so chicken soup is a welcome recipe. Love the idea of lemon. Summer has been such a weird season with bushfires, rain and unusually cool days, that my lemon tree is only now coming to ripeness. I’m usually making lemon cordial before Christmas! So I should have enough ripe lemons for this luscious-sounding soup. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Rachel says

      Hi MaryAnne yes it looks like risoni in the photo. Orzo is a cereal which translate in English as Barley we use it a lot here in Italy, it’s very different to risoni and is certainly delicious in soups. I can’t wait to try this recipe looks yummy!

  5. Liz B says

    Phenomenal. I let the soup minus the orzo simmer all afternoon. Added the orzo in, baked a premade loaf of French bread in the oven and voila! Awesome, fresh, homemade dinner. Thank you.

  6. janet says

    Thank yo for this recipe … I am buried in a case of bacterial pneumonia and this is just hitting the spot!!!

    (I make it in my rice cooker … I make all my soups in there as they cannot boil over!!! I actually made your Mexican Corn/Bean/Quinoa dish as a soup last week)


  7. says

    Gorgeous! I tend to love lighter soups, like this one, especially when it’s warm out. I think it’s because when you’re sitting in an office in air conditioning a nice bowl of soup will warm you up!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. says

    I made this recipe over the weekend.. it was so very yummy and will be a regular… especially as we are going into Winter here…
    Thanks for an inspirational blog….

  9. says

    My poor daughter has been sick as a dog for a week! Been to the doctor twice to check for strep. He said she may have mono and there is no medicine to help. Just needs to run its course.
    This delicious soup was just what she needed! She loved the lemony flavor. Soooo delicious!
    I mean…So Damn Delicious!

  10. says

    I so need this soup in my life right now! I’ve been so sick this week and hot soup and hot tea seem to be the only things that are working for me. This is going on the menu tonight for sure. Thanks for posting, Chung-Ah!

    • Chung-Ah says

      Oh no, feel better. And this is definitely one of those comfort foods that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

  11. Regan says

    I’ve made tons of recipes from your site. They NEVER cease to impress! This one is no exception. Thank you so much for filling my and my family’s bellies with your damn delicious recipes. :)

  12. Marie says

    I tried your soup today and was pleasantly surprised, I was concerned for the lemon flavour, it’s was great, brought some to a friends house and she thought it was amazing. Will make again. Thank you, Marie

  13. Elisabeth S says


    Could you substitute ground turkey for the chicken? Would that go well with the lemon flavor?

    • Chung-Ah says

      Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried making this in the slow cooker. I recommend using your own judgement to convert this recipe to utilize a crockpot.

  14. Piri says

    I’ve never made soup before and tonight I made this for my family – it was great! I made it in a huuuge pot and my little family and I devoured it! Soo good for us taste wise and healthwise, it has become a favourite. Thank you!!! :)

  15. Saskia says

    I just had a big bowl ok two bowls:) while sitting outside in the evening sun. It had just the right amount of lemon in it.

  16. Renee says

    I made this tonight and it was wonderful! Hubby loved it! I used Basmati rice instead of orzo pasta, but everything else was the same. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  17. Emma says

    So yummy. Made this for lunch today. But I’m a vegetarian, so I made a couple of changes. Left out the chicken ( of course) and used homemade veggie broth. So good , so good.
    Really just looking for a good reason to make the house smell like rosemary. :)

  18. Mariam says

    I made this today. My house smelled divine while I was making it. Thank you for such a great recipe. This one is going to my list of “go to” ones.

  19. Claire says

    Hi, just wondering whether this could be made freezer friendly once it is cooked? Would the chicken/pasta be OK? I am very keen to try this, but since there is only my husband and myself I like to freeze some left over portions for future easy dinners :)

    • Chungah says

      Claire, this can be freezer-friendly if you cook the orzo separately and keep it separate until serving. If not, the orzo will soak up all the liquid over time.

  20. Gretchen says

    I know it says “serve immediately”, but I would like to bring it to a friend in a tupperware. Can I make it a day earlier than they will eat it, and refrigerate it? Or should I cook the orzo separately and just tell them to add it right before reheating?

  21. Patti Hearne says

    It says cook chicken 3 min & set aside, then add more oil carrots celery etc. and cook 3-4 min… Is this in the same pot together with the chicken? The “set aside” part confused me, don’t want to overcook the chicken.

  22. Christine says

    I made this soup. It was great, but looked different from yours. Your chicken stock is really yellow. Do you buy chance use a bullion cube? Or buy a certain type of chicken stock? I used Swanson and it looked very different than your picture.

  23. Eleanor says

    Have everything here to make this soup – as soon as the chicken thaws out. :) Also love the comment that someone used their rice cooker to make soup in. I’ll try that but not when feeding my crowd since I have a small pot. Any help here would be appreciated. When I make rice in it I just close the lid and it does it’s own wonderful thing! Thank you for your fantastic recipes and insights.

  24. Shelly says

    I just made this soup and its delish. Just the right blend of aromatics make this a keeper. Thank you so much for the recipe and the great photos on your website!

  25. Jennifer says

    I just made this soup and it’s absolutely delishes. I didn’t add the rosemary, because I didn’t have it on hand, but otherwise I love it! I was looking for recipes for my picky daughter and I think she will love it, too! Thanks!!

  26. Erin Pritchard says

    I’ve made this for my husband before and he just loved it, requested I make it again tonight which I plan on doing, makes our house smell amazing! He requests one strange substitution though: for some reason the idea of orzo pasta freaks him out (don’t ask, lol) so I’ve subbed it out for the small star shaped pasta. Brings you back to your childhood of eating chicken and stars soup… except for the grown up, damn delicious lemon flavor! Thanks for the yummy recipe!

  27. Christina says

    I am making this today, I have a whole chicken in the crockpot with rosemary, onion, carrot, and celery, I will use the chicken and broth for this. I searched my stores for orzo but for some reason it isn’t carried around here :-( I will use either jasmine rice or some tiny ABC noodles that I have.

  28. Anne Kline says

    I I just made this. I roasted a chicken and then made my own stock from the carcass. It was wonderful. Thank you so much for the recipe

  29. Jessica says

    I just made this and threw in some kale. I also lazed out and used a rotisserie chicken. yummy! Thank you for the recipe.

  30. Jessica says

    I’m making this right now and just realized I forgot to set the chicken aside. I just kept adding everything to the pot. Hope the chicken doesn’t come out too dry ughhhh :(

  31. says

    This looks delicious! Pinning now~making this weekend!

  32. says

    Great write up, I was getting a soar throat. This was just what I need to regain strength and energy.I also substituted the chicken stock with Better Than Bouillon. I highly recommend this ingredient.

  33. Nazneen says

    Made this last night for my boyfriend who is sick. It was delicious! The broth had amazing flavor. Will def. make again!

  34. Laura says

    Has anyone tried this soup in a crock pot? I’m dying to try it and I would love to put it in the crock pot in the morning before I head off to work and come home to a delicious cup of soup.

  35. Allie says

    Made this earlier for my family and they all loved it. Seconds and thirds were had and it was delicious. I just browned some thighs and tore the meat off them. But it was still delicious! Keeper for sure

  36. MacKenzie says

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! So easy to out together and such a short cooking time, yet so flavorful! The addition of the lemon juice is genius and really makes the dish in my opinion. Thank you!

  37. Andrea says

    I’m making this soon for a weeks worth of soup for my work-lunches. Should I leave the bay leaf in for a while? Discard as I divvy up amongst my Tupperware? Do I also remove the sprig of rosemary- or does it break up and become part of the soup? (I’m used to cooking with dried rosemary). Thanks!

    • Chungah says

      Yes, it is best to discard the bay leaf before dividing up among servings. I also recommend adding the sprig of fresh rosemary right before serving.

  38. Janet says

    I’ve been making chicken soup for 30 years and this is the freshest, most delicious recipe I’ve ever made! Picky husband loved it. I’ll be making your copycat pasta fagoli this weekend as it’s one of my favorite soups. Thanks!

    • Chungah says

      Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! I recommend using your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

  39. April says

    This sounds delicious. My husband loves chicken noodle soup–mostly campbell’s!–and this would be such a great way to make it healthier and class it up! Maybe I can teach him a thing or two!

    One question: does the dried thyme rehydrate? I often don’t use it just because I don’t like the way it’s “hard” when I bite on it and it gets stuck in my teeth. Does it soften in the soup?

    • Chungah says

      I haven’t found the thyme to “harden” in the soup but if you’d like, you can substitute other herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, etc.

  40. Debi says

    I have made nearly half of your recipes… You are my go to guru every time I need a meal, snack, soup…I have N.E.V.E R. been disappointed. I’m sure you won’t let me down tomorrow when I make this…infact I know it!!!

  41. Jeanne says

    I made this last night for dinner. It tasted so amazing, I never want to eat canned soup again. (I have a horrible cold, and this is the only thing I ate this week that didn’t taste like the bottom of a pond).

  42. Victoria says

    I have a cold/sore throat/headache developing and loved that I could make this easily without sacrificing flavour! I also added some fresh ginger root to help with my sore throat and it was delish. I used dried parsley and celery since I didn’t have fresh on hand – still seemed great!!

  43. margo says

    Loving this soup. It’s become a regular on my rotation this fall and into the winter. I’ve been adding in a bit of heavy whipping cream at the end to make it creamy and rich. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  44. Jennifer says

    I have made this soup twice and I love it. Second time, I used rotisserie chicken because I didn’t feel like cooking the chicken and it still came out great! I do add extra lemon but I follow the recipe as stated.

  45. leah says

    this is such a fantastic and easy soup to make! i use rotisserie chicken and an italian herb medley, i rarely have fresh herbs in the house.
    thank you, it’s a family favorite.

  46. kelsea says

    I just made this tonight but instead of the 1 cup of water I swapped it for white cooking wine and it was delicious! One of the best homemade chicken soup recipes I’ve tried!

  47. Victoria says

    Made this for lunch today for myself and my sick family. It was really good! I suggest using more water and less fresh lemon juice. 1 cup of water to 5 cups of chicken stock simply is not enough and juice from an entire lemon is too citrus-y. But! The citrus definitely is a nice addition to the taste. Looking forward to making this soup again! Thanks for sharing!

  48. says

    My daughter and I just made this soup for some sick friends. It’s delicious!! I will be making it regularly. Thanx for another great recipe 😉

  49. Lisa says

    I just made this today — it’s freezing in the East Bay — and it was perfect! So flavorful yet simple. I definitely added too much rosemary (I put in one “sprig” as directed, but it was large), but it’s still deeeelish.

    Thanks for warming us up on a chilly day. :)

  50. says

    Making this tonight! Hope it makes my daughter and hubby feel better soon.. its snowy here tonight in Chicago and this soup is warming up the house with all the yummy smell goods. Thanks for sharing the recipe and those that shared their comments

  51. Deb says

    Does anyone know why the cholesterol is so high in the nutritional info for this soup? That can’t be correct? I have high cholesterol but want to try it. My instinct is telling me this is a typo?

    • says

      Hi Deb.
      I’m the Dietitian who put together the Nutrition Information for this recipe. The estimated amount of cholesterol is correct. Nearly all of the dietary cholesterol in this recipe is from the chicken.
      For someone with high blood cholesterol, the recommendation is to limit cholesterol intake to 200 mg/day. At 68.5 mg/serving, if you plan your other food for the day accordingly, this dish could fit into your diet.
      Also, please remember that dietary cholesterol has less of an effect on blood cholesterol than was once thought. The biggest dietary impact on blood cholesterol is actually synthetic trans fat!

  52. April says

    Man this was really damn delicious. I have to admit I was nervous about adding the juice from a whole lemon but I trusted your recipe and added it anyways. What a game changer. It’s bright but still savory. I love it! Thank you for sharing!

  53. Katie says

    I made this tonight and it was deeeelicious! I added lemon zest and fresh, chopped spinach. It was a hit! I’ll definitely be making it again and again. Thank you for the great recipe!

  54. Cindy says

    No one asked if this recipe could be doubled and do you double everything in it including the lemon and the water?Thanks-need this for a family get together….

  55. Jen says

    I was just able to throw this together this morning, in the middle of getting the kids to school, with some leftover baked chicken breast and frozen homemade chicken stock I had in the freezer. It is soooo good, and I can’t wait to have a huge bowl at work today, and send some to school with the kids!

  56. Amy says

    Oh my god. This was to die for. I am very very wary to try soup recipes, as I usually don’t like anything other than my grandmas. But boy oh boy, this was so incredibly delicious. I will be making this again and again and again. I wouldn’t change a thing. So so so good.

  57. says

    Made this last week, hubs and I both totally enjoyed it on a chilly afternoon. Leftovers from the fridge reheated just fine for several days (it’s just the 2 of us and this makes a large pot, at least 6-8 bowls, but that’s no problem, you’ll be happy to take your time to eat up the leftovers). Found I had to add more chicken broth to get soup (rather than stew) consistency that I wanted, but otherwise made as written. We added a squeeze of fresh lemon to each bowl at the table, just cause we’re lemon fans. Only thing I’d do differently next time is cut back a little on the orzo so the pot isn’t quite to stew-like. Chunga, I have loved everything I’ve made of yours, especially this soup and your Swedish Meatballs. You’re my new favorite chef!

  58. Kristina says

    Delish! Added some baby spinach for some more greens, and it was awesome. That squeeze of lemon at the end gives it the perfect lightness and brightness :) Thanks for always posting amazing recipes!

  59. Betsy says

    I’ve never commented on a blog before, but I really just needed to say that yours is AMAZING!! Every single recipe on here that I’ve tried, from the kale & meyer lemon salad to this soup, has turned out delicious!! Thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipes!!

    – A (former) incompetent cook :)

  60. Karen says

    This looks awesome for today. My better half is not feeling well (too much fun last night). This would be perfect for him. It is supposed to be “spring” however, we just got 4 inches of snow yesterday. Yuk!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Chungah says

      This is best served immediately because there is really no way around this. You can also keep the orzo separate and simply add before serving.

  61. says

    Thank You this soup is damn delishous & fit to serve the queen! Just made it. I added 2 packets chicken noodle soup, 2 chicken stock cubes & 2 packets dried ramen noodles (prawn flavour with spice sachets included. I pre-grilled my chicken fillets with butter, cayenne pepper, salt and lime juice and then chopped it all up and added it. If using whole chicken will do same but not add the butter as there will then be enough chicken fat. Damn Delish is all I can say !!

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