A winter staple and all-around classic dinner recipe, this lemony chicken orzo soup is a cure-all for anything that might be ailing you. You’re going to love my version of chicken soup with lemon!
I am a huge fan of chicken soups with rich, homemade stocks that cook for hours. This recipe is not one that simmers for hours, but the richness and deep flavors are all still there.
This recipe is comprised of a few main elements:
- Aromatics: Fennel, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic
- Dry and fresh herbs: Thyme, rosemary, and parsley
- Chicken: Thighs and tenderloins
- Pasta: Orzo (or any small pasta shape such as ditalini or acini di pepe)
You can use any mixture of dry and fresh herbs depending on what’s in season. If you have fresh rosemary and dry thyme, that’s totally fine! But if you have fresh thyme and dry rosemary, that’s okay too!
For the dry herbs, particularly rosemary, you want to crush them in a mortar and pestle or pulse through a food processor because the dry version tends to be very pointy and uncomfortable to eat.
How to make this lemony chicken orzo soup recipe:
Making this easy dinner recipe is a breeze, though you do have to babysit the pot for the first few steps. After that, it’s just simmering on the stovetop while you can go do anything else you want!
Here’s how you make this chicken soup with lemon:
First, cook the aromatics. Fry up the onion, fennel, and bell pepper in the pot until just beginning to soften. Add minced garlic and cook briefly. Next, add the minced herbs–rosemary, thyme, and parsley–and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Then, add the chicken and toss to coat with the herbs. Add water, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Taste it and season to your preferences. After it simmers, remove the thighs from the pot and shred the meat. Discard the skin and bones. Add the meat back to the pot and bring the soup back to a boil. From there, simply add the orzo and stir frequently. Cook until the orzo is al dente, about 10 minutes. Finish the soup with lemon juice and that’s it!
Looking for more chicken recipes? Check my archives!
If you made this recipe, please rate the recipe below and leave a comment to tell me how you liked it! If you take a picture of it, please tag me on Instagram so I can feature you in my feed!
Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 1 fennel bulb trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper trimmed, seeded, and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoons dry rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dry thyme
- ¼ cup fresh parsley minced
- 3 scallions white and light green parts, separated
- 1 pound chicken tenderloins or breasts cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 pound skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
- 8 cups water
- 1 ¼ cup dry orzo
- 1 lemon juiced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fennel fronds
- Minced parsley
Cook the aromatics:
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and fennel and cook for 6–8 minutes until just beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute—season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the herbs:
- Place the white parts of the scallions in a food processor along with the rosemary, thyme, and parsley and pulse until minced. Alternatively, mince the scallions and combine with the rosemary, thyme, and parsley in a mortar and pestle and mixed until completely crushed.
Bloom the herbs:
- Melt the butter into the pot of aromatics. Once bubbly, add the minced scallion whites, rosemary, thyme, and parsley—cook for 1 minute.
Cook the chicken:
- Add the diced chicken tenderloins and cook for 3 minutes. Place the chicken thighs on top and season everything with salt and pepper.
Simmer the soup:
- Add the water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Skim the surface of the soup occasionally to remove any foam or scum that floats to the top—taste and season to your preferences.
Shred the chicken thighs:
- Remove the chicken thighs from the pot and remove the skin. Shred the meat from the bone and discard the bones and skin. Return the shredded chicken to the pot. Bring the soup back to a boil.
Cook the orzo:
- Once the soup is boiling, add the orzo. Stir regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook for 10 minutes until al dente.
Finish the soup:
- Mince the green parts of the scallion and stir them into the soup along with the juice from the lemon—taste and season once more to your preferences.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with fennel fronds and more minced parsley. Enjoy!