Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is both comforting and light. Egg yolks thicken the soup with richness and lemons add a sunny bright flavor.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is the kind of dish that’s perfect if you want a really cozy, easy meal. The flavors are comforting yet light. Creamy but also bright. Using leftover rotisserie chicken or precooked chicken breasts, everything comes together easily in about 30 perfect minutes. The kind of soup that you want to curl up with on a comfy couch or armchair, for some reason it suits the moment to hold the bowl close and take in the lemon and almost buttery smell of the soup.
As I mentioned, this is a nice recipe to use with leftover rotisserie chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces. If you don’t have rotisserie meat, just poach a couple of chicken breasts ahead of time until the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees, cool and then shred for the soup. Talk about tender, juicy chicken soup! The broth is thickened just right with egg yolks poured into the soup at the right time to allow for richness without scrambling the eggs. This use of the egg yolks is what adds to the velvety texture and buttery flavor. Note, my broth is pretty yellow thanks to the free-range eggs I get from my backyard chickens. Yours might be a lighter color. The flavor will still be fabulous.
For the lemon, I add zest and juice for a nice compliment to the eggy broth, orzo pasta, and of course the chicken. I personally couldn’t get enough of the lemon flavor but you can add more or less depending on your liking.
Seriously, this chicken was poached just right before I added it and it remained tender throughout. Leftover grilled chicken would also be a great addition. See how the thickened broth coats the chicken and pasta? Hand clap here.
I worried that the orzo would become kind of mushy when reheated the next day but it was still just right and maybe even better since the pasta was able to absorb the flavors even more overnight. So feel free to make this a day ahead if you need to. Or why not double it so you can eat it tonight and then have leftovers to send for lunches or to a neighbor who’d appreciate a lift. When reheating the soup, don’t allow it to boil. Heat it over medium until the broth starts to steam.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is perfect cold weather comfort food but also translates into a light, lemony, springtime soup. If you want a vegetarian option, use vegetable broth and leave out the chicken or substitute it with firm chunks of tofu. Cracked black pepper and chunky buttered bread are all you need to complete this beauty.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 cup orzo
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 large lemons, Juiced- about 6 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie, or any precooked chicken. 2 breasts, poached works well
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 chopped onion and cook until it becomes soft, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add 8 cups broth, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to boil and add 1 cup orzo. Cook until orzo is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the thyme (It's fine and even great if a few of the thyme leaves remain). Turn off the heat.
- Whisk 6 egg yolks and 6 Tablespoons lemon juice in a bowl until well combined. Whisking constantly, very slowly pour the yolk mixture into the hot soup. Stir in 2 cups chicken, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes until the soup has thickened and chicken is warmed through.
- Spoon into serving bowls and top with fresh chives.
For Vegetarian Option:
- Replace chicken broth with vegetable broth and omit the chicken. Add one or two diced zucchini or summer squash half way through cooking the orzo pasta.
For Paleo or Keto Option:
- Precooked white great northern beans may be used in place of the orzo.
Recipe from Cook’s Country Magazine.
Made this recipe last night for dinner. It goes together very quickly for a weeknight meal and tastes great! My wife thinks it’s better than the Panera version. The tang of lemon is very comforting. Great job,Sally!
liz veek says
Excited to try this recipe! Just had this for the first time with my book club group this week and I just LOVED it so much I had to ask for the recipe. Making today!
I came home feeling yucky and wanting soup. I had everything on hand except to orzo so I subbed ditalini. In half an hour I had a bowl of pure comfort and great taste. Sally, you nailed this one!
Regina smith says
Oh MY this soup is AMAZING! It’s so light but still has so much flavor. Very good Sally, Thank You!
Sally Humeniuk says
Thanks, Regina! One of our favorites for sure.
jackie k says
I had been CRAVING Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup that Panera only serves in the summer for 2 months and then I found this recipe and it totally nailed the soup!!! It was fantastic and exactly what I was looking for.
Sally Humeniuk says
Thanks, Jackie! This is such a nice compliment. Glad you liked it!
What a wonderful soup! The house smells so good and boy does this soup taste delicious! I made a double batch this evening so we could have leftovers tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Will definitely make this again.
Diane Wilkins says
Yum! Your recipe looks super simple and delicious. Gotta give this one a try soon. Thanks for sharing.
Kim Cloward says
I was pleasantly surprised by the light tasty flavours in this soup. Very good!!
I love lemon orzo soup! Can’t wait to try this one!
Cassandra Lipnicki says
I’m excited to try this. I looked up another recipe a couple of weeks ago and it turned out awful, so excited to try again! your recipes always are good!
Sally Humeniuk says
Thanks so much, Cassandra! I’m very confident you’ll like this one. Let me know what you think. Have a great week. I appreciate you!