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Watch out regular chicken noodle soup, this bowl of comfort is moving up the ranks! Flavorful and satisfying, Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup can be made either in the Instant Pot or on top of the stove. Tender chicken, vegetables, and orzo pasta cooked in a bright lemony broth is light, healthy, and absolutely delicious!
Table of Contents
Not only will you love to make it, you’ll be proud to serve this easy lemon chicken soup.
First, build an aromatic base with onions, carrots, and celery. Then, cook chicken breasts with fresh lemon and grated ginger — an unexpected, but clever ingredient — for one of the tastiest soups ever!
Looking for more creative soup recipes? You may enjoy my Potato Broccoli Cheese Soup loaded with chunks of potato, broccoli, and pancetta. Or, my Zuppa Toscana Soup has a rich and creamy broth with delicious flavor.
Key ingredients and substitutions for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Chicken — Use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs. For convenience, purchase boneless and skinless or use my tip below to debone chicken thighs with poultry shears.
- Onion, carrots, and celery — This trio of veggies combine to create Soffritto. An Italian cooking technique, slow cooking a mixture of diced onions, carrots, and celery until soft and caramelized provides a very pleasing depth of flavor for many dishes.
- Garlic — Mince fresh garlic for the best flavor, but jarred minced garlic will also work in a pinch.
- Chicken stock — Use store bought for make your own using leftover chicken bones.
- Lemon — Cut a whole lemon into quarters and remove the seeds before adding to the pot.
- Dry orzo pasta — Orzo is a small rice-shaped pasta. For an even healthier choice, opt for whole wheat orzo with more fiber and protein.
- How to debone chicken thighs with poultry shears – 1) Place each thigh skin-side down on a cutting board. 2) Find the visible seam of fat and bone, then use poultry shears to cut along one side of the bone. 3) Make another cut along the other side of the bone, then snip along the ends of the bone to remove it completely from the meat.
How to make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
STEP 1 | Sauté the vegetables
In the instant pot or on top of the stove in a Dutch oven, sauté the onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, being careful not to burn.
STEP 2 | Cook the chicken
Add the chicken breasts to the instant pot or Dutch oven, along with chicken stock, water, freshly grated ginger, and a lemon cut into quarters. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, then transfer the chicken to a plate. When cool enough, shred the chicken using two forks.
Squeeze any remaining lemon juice into the pot, being careful not to let any seeds into the broth.
- Washing raw chicken under running water may seem like a good way to get rid of some of the bacteria on the surface, but it actually promotes cross-contamination. Washing chicken can splatter the juices and spread bacteria to other areas around the sink, onto kitchen towels, and even onto your clothes. Instead, remove the chicken from packaging and blot dry with paper towels.
STEP 3 | Cook the pasta
Add dry orzo pasta and spices to the soup broth and cook until the pasta is tender. Stir the shredded chicken back into the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the flavors are well blended.
STEP 4 | Garnish and serve
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Garnish with a slice of fresh lemon or lemon zest, if desired.
Frequently asked questions
Store chicken orzo soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Because pasta will absorb a lot of the soup’s liquid, add some chicken broth before reheating. Warm the leftovers on the stove or in the microwave until hot and steamy.
Since this soup isn’t cream based, it can absolutely be frozen. However, if you plan to freeze the soup to use later, I suggest that you do so before you add the orzo. Let the soup cool completely, then portion out into resealable freezer bags and store for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, reheat on the stove, and stir in cooked orzo pasta.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup: behind the recipe
Today is FREAKY FRIDAY, y’all! That may not mean a thing to you, but it’s pretty exciting for me. Freaky Friday is a fun blog project (the brainchild of Michaela from An Affair From the Heart) where a group of food bloggers secretly cook or bake a recipe from another blog they were assigned, then reveal the recipes at the same time on one Freaky Friday morning — that’s TODAY!
And now for the big Freaky Friday reveal — meet Sandra, creator of The Foodie Affair and today’s delicious soup recipe! Sandra is a health enthusiast and recipe developer who strives to inspire her readers to be wildly passionate and creative in the kitchen.
Take a look at all of our 2021 Freaky Friday Fall Edition Recipes:
- An Affair from the Heart – Pumpkin Pie Bars with Shortbread Crust
- Aunt Bee’s Recipes – 30 Minute Skillet Lasagna
- The Carefree Kitchen – Brazilian Cheese Bread
- Devour Dinner – Instant Pot Applesauce
- Fresh April Flours – Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- The Fresh Cooky – Air Fryer Ravioli
- The Foodie Affair – Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Recipe
- Hostess at Heart – Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Cookie Recipe
- House of Nash Eats – Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog – Halloween Monster Cookie Recipe
- Lemoine Family Kitchen – Creamy Vegetable Gnocchi Soup
- Life Currents – Loaded Potato Skins
- Life, Love & Good Food – Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- The Speckled Palate – Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach
- Sue Bee Homemaker – Overnight Sourdough Bread
- Take Two Tapas – Air Fryer Asparagus Fries
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced (1 1/2 cups)
- 3 medium carrots sliced or diced (1 cup)
- 2 celery stalks sliced or diced (1 cup)
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 large lemon seeds removed and quartered
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley for garnish
In the Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker:
- Set the electric pressure cooker to SAUTÉ. When hot, add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until soft, about 5minutes.
- Press CANCEL to stop the SAUTÉ function. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and add to the pot, along with the garlic, chicken stock, water, ginger and lemon.
- Lock the electric pressure cooker lid in place and set the steam vent to SEALING. Select HIGH pressure and cook for 7 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes, then carefully open the steam vent to release any remaining pressure.
- Open the lid and transfer the chicken to a plate. Remove the lemon quarters, and squeeze any remaining juice into the pot, then discard.
- Stir the orzo, dried herbs and salt and pepper into the pressure cooker. Lock the electric pressure cooker lid in place and set the steam vent to SEALING. Select HIGH pressure and cook for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, shred the chicken with 2 forks. When the time is up, quick release the pressure. Open the lid and stir the shredded chicken back into the pot. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired, and serve.
On the stove:
- In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and add to the pot along with the chicken stock, water, ginger, and lemon; bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate and shred with two forks.
- Add the orzo, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Return the shredded chicken to the pot and simmer until piping hot and the flavors are well blended, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Store chicken orzo soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Because the pasta will absorb a lot of the soup’s liquid, add some chicken broth before reheating. Warm the leftovers on the stove or in the microwave until hot and steamy.
- If you plan to freeze the soup, do so before you add the orzo. Let the soup cool completely, then portion out into resealable freezer bags and store for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, reheat on the stove, and stir in cooked orzo pasta.
Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.