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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup | Cookies and Cups


This easy lemon chicken orzo soup is made in one pot with wholesome ingredients like tender shredded chicken, savory herbs, egg yolks, and lemon. The broth is silky and the orzo pasta makes it extra satisfying! 

I love a quick stovetop soup recipe like this Mediterranean-inspired chicken orzo soup with lemon. For another cozy soup filled with fresh ingredients, give this Greek tomato feta soup a try.

A bowl of lemon chicken orzo soup with a stemless glass of white wine and a second bowl of soup in the background.

What Makes This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup So Good

This lemon chicken orzo soup recipe puts a bright and zesty twist on classic chicken noodle soup. It combines brined chicken, savory herbs, veggies, and orzo pasta in the creamiest broth thickened with egg and lemon. You’re going to love the flavors! Here’s why it’s the best:

  • Lemon and egg yolks. This chicken orzo soup mixes egg yolks and lemon juice into the broth, similar to how you’d make Greek avgolemono soup. The egg yolks enrich the broth while real lemon zest and juice add tanginess. Together, they make a flavorful, creamy soup without adding any cream.
  • Brined chicken. Soaking the chicken in salted water is an optional first step, but it seasons the chicken and gives the flavors in the soup a major boost.
  • One pot. I cook the chicken, sauté the veggies, and prepare the soup in the same pot. It’s convenient and creates layers of flavor in a short simmer time. As a bonus, clean-up is easy.
Ingredients for lemon chicken orzo soup with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Soup Ingredients

I’ve included some notes on the ingredients you’ll need for the soup. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for a full list with amounts.

  • Chicken – I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts because they’re easy to shred, but any chicken works. Use chicken thighs, or you can make this orzo soup with leftover cooked chicken (more on this later).
  • Aromatics – Diced carrots, celery, and yellow onion form the flavor base of the soup. I also include freshly minced garlic to bulk up the aromatics.
  • Chicken Broth – This can be store-bought low-sodium chicken broth, or I’ll often use homemade chicken stock.
  • Fresh Dill – I love how savory fresh dill plays off the lemony flavors. 
  • Seasonings – Salt, pepper, and dried oregano.
  • Orzo – Orzo is a short-cut pasta that looks like large grains of rice. You can make this recipe with any pasta you prefer, it just won’t technically be orzo soup in this case. You could even use homemade egg noodles.
  • Egg Yolks – Just like making avgolemono soup, you’ll temper egg yolks and add them back into the soup to help it thicken.
  • Lemons – Juiced and zested. You’ll want to use fresh lemon in this recipe! 

Why Add Lemon Juice to Chicken Soup?

Adding lemon juice is a simple way to elevate chicken soup, whether it’s in this recipe or otherwise. The acidity brightens the flavors the same way lime juice does in my spicy Mexican chipotle lime chicken soup.

How to Brine Chicken

NOTE: You don’t have to brine the chicken!! BUT it’s a way to add another layer of flavor to the soup as a whole! You cook the chicken in broth, so it’s definitely not necessary, but it’s an easy step to take while you prep your other ingredients!

To brine the chicken, add your chicken breasts to a large pot of salt water and leave them to soak for 15 minutes. It’s fine to leave the chicken in the solution for longer, though in that case, be sure to move it to the fridge. Afterward, pat the chicken dry before you sear it.

Let’s Make Chicken Orzo Soup With Lemon!

If you’ve never made chicken soup with lemon before, you’ll be blown away by how amazing the broth turns out. The lemon freshens up the flavors while the egg makes the broth silky (similar to how egg yolks emulsify to create a creamy, flavorful sauce in carbonara recipes).

Here are the steps. Scroll to the recipe card after the post for printable instructions.

  • Cook the ingredients. Start by browning the chicken breasts in a large Dutch oven, then set them aside. In the same pot, sauté the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.
  • Make the soup. Now, you’ll add the chicken breasts back to the pot along with the broth. Sprinkle over the dill and oregano, and season the soup to taste while it comes to a simmer. After 10 minutes, add the orzo and let that cook through.
  • Shred the chicken. Take out the chicken breasts and shred or dice them before returning the pieces to the soup.
  • Finish the soup. In a separate bowl, temper the egg yolks with a bit of hot broth before stirring them into the soup. Finally, the lemon juice and zest get stirred in before you’re ready to serve. 
A ladle lifting lemon chicken orzo soup from a large pot of soup.

Can I Use a Rotisserie Chicken Instead?

Sure! While brining the chicken and cooking it in the broth makes for an especially flavorful chicken orzo soup, if I’m pressed for time, I’ll add 3-4 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken instead. In this case, add the chicken at the very end, at the same time as the lemon juice, and let it heat through.

Overhead view of a bowl of lemon chicken orzo soup next to a stemless glass of white wine and a second bowl of soup.

Serving Suggestions

This zesty chicken orzo soup with lemon makes a tasty light meal or lunch. I’ll often serve it with fluffy garlic parmesan biscuit rolls or crusty homemade French bread and dig in! As a side, try air fryer asparagus or a leafy green salad. This hearty Mediterranean couscous salad is another good option, or you can round out the meal with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Close up of a spoon resting in a bowlful of lemon chicken orzo soup.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Refrigerate. Store any leftover lemon chicken orzo soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • Reheat. Warm the soup in the microwave or on the stovetop. If you find that the soup has thickened up, add a little more chicken broth when reheating.
  • Freeze. You can also freeze this orzo soup airtight for up to 2 months. Defrost the soup in the fridge overnight and then reheat.

More Chicken Soup Recipes

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Description

This lemon chicken orzo soup is made in one pot with wholesome ingredients like juicy shredded chicken, tender orzo pasta, veggies, and herbs. Egg yolks and lemon make the broth extra silky!


  • 4 quarts of warm water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry orzo
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Juice of 2 medium lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • Optional – Zest of 1 lemon
  • More salt and pepper to taste

  1. Brine the chicken: *See note. Dissolve salt in 4 quarts of warm water. Place the chicken into the salt water for 15 minutes at room temperature. You can brine the chicken for up to an hour, but any longer than 15 minutes you need to place the chicken back in the refrigerator.
  2. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat it completely dry.
  3. Cook the chicken: Heat the olive oil in a 7-quart pot (or Dutch Oven) over medium heat. Add in the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the diced carrots, celery, and onion into the pot and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  5. Make the soup: Return the chicken back to the pan and add in the chicken broth, dill oregano, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the orzo into the pot and simmer for 10 more minutes, or until the orzo is cooked.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it with a fork or cut it into cubes. Return the chicken back to the pot.
  8. Separately, whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl while slowly adding in 1/2 cup of the hot broth. Add the egg mixture to the soup and stir to combine and thicken.
  9. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and zest, if desired, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Serve warm.

Notes

  • *Brining note: This step is optional, but it’s a great way to add another layer of flavor to your soup. If you choose not to brine the chicken skip ahead to set #3.
  • You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken if you prefer. You will need 3 – 4 cups of cooked chicken and will add this to the soup in step #7 to heat the chicken.

Storing instructions:

  • Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  • If the orzo absorbs too much of the liquid and the soup has thickened too much you can add more chicken broth if desired.
  • Freeze airtight for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stovetop.

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