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.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion chopped fine
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup orzo
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 large lemons zested and juiced- at least 6 tablespoons lemon juice, 8 is excellent!
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie or any precooked chicken 2 breasts, poached works well
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it becomes soft, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add broth, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and add the 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).
- Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice in a bowl until well combined. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the yolk mixture into the hot soup. Stir in the 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 a vegetarian option, replace chicken broth with vegetable broth and omit the chicken. Add diced firm tofu and or thinly sliced lemons at the end of cooking.
- For Paleo or Keto option, precooked white great northern beans may be used in place of the orzo.
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine.