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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Cozy and comforting, this lemon chicken orzo soup is a healthy and easy dinner that your entire family will love!
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon chicken orzo soup, lemon chicken soup, lemon chicken soup with orzo
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 9 cups
Calories 136.6kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken breast (or about 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 lemons, divided
  • 2 onions, divided
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth, plus extra to thin the soup at the end
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • ¾ cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed)
  • Optional garnish: additional fresh herbs; grated Parmesan cheese



  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Thinly slice 2 of the lemons and 1 onion.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (for easy clean-up) and spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Arrange lemon slices and onion slices on the baking sheet.
  • Rub chicken with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with 1 tablespoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place chicken (skin-side up) on top of the sliced lemons and onions.
  • Roast chicken for 45 minutes, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Allow chicken to cool enough so that you can handle it, and then remove the meat from the skin and bones. Chop or shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.


  • In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion, the carrots, celery, and the minced garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften (about 3-5 minutes).
  • Add chicken broth, water, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Stir in cooked chicken, orzo, and the juice from the remaining lemon. Simmer, uncovered, until the orzo is tender (about 10-12 minutes). Stir occasionally so that the orzo doesn’t stick.
  • Remove bay leaf. Season soup with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in fresh dill and add extra chicken broth to thin, as necessary.
  • Serve immediately, or allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (or in the freezer for up to 3 months).


  • The roasted lemon chicken is worth the extra step! It's so good, in fact, that you might just want to eat the chicken on its own for dinner! Roasting the chicken breast over lemon and onion just adds another layer of flavor to the soup. That said, if you're in a time crunch and looking for a shortcut, you can use cooked, shredded rotisserie chicken (see my notes above for those instructions).
  • Use bone-in, skin-on chicken because it has so much more flavor and moisture than boneless, skinless chicken. You can substitute with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat.
  • Add extra chicken broth or water, as necessary, to thin the soup to reach your desired consistency. As written, this recipe yields a pretty thick soup.
  • The total amount of salt that you need for the soup will depend on personal preference, as well as on the saltiness of your broth. I highly recommend using plenty of seasoning. There's nothing worse than a bland soup, so don't be too cautious with the salt and pepper. Taste and season as you go!
  • Rotisserie Chicken Orzo Soup: If you're short on time, you can skip the step of roasting your own chicken. Instead, prepare the soup with about 2 cups of shredded or diced rotisserie chicken or other pre-cooked chicken.
  • This soup doesn't have a strong lemony taste at all. It's not a "lemon soup" -- just a classic chicken soup with a hint of fresh lemon. For a stronger lemon taste, add the juice from two lemons, as well as the zest from one lemon.
  • Swap out the orzo pasta and use a similar small shaped pasta like ditalini, acini de pepe, or orecchiette.
  • If you don't care for the flavor of fresh dill, substitute with chopped fresh parsley, additional thyme, or just about any other herbs that you like. Rosemary, oregano, or basil would also be tasty!
  • Add baby spinach to your soup at the very end. The spinach will wilt almost instantly, and will add even more of a nutritional boost.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 136.6kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.3g | Protein: 9.7g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 0.9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2.9g | Cholesterol: 19.6mg | Sodium: 480.8mg | Potassium: 425.6mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 2.9g