This Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon and Orzo is comfort food at its finest! It’s so easy to prepare and uses fresh, simple and wholesome ingredients. It’s hearty enough to be a main meal all on its own but also makes the perfect appetizer or side dish to all of your favourite Greek inspired meals.
We’re nearing the end of January here (wait, what?! ALREADY??!) and you know what I always say around this time of year. GET YOUR SOUP ON, PEOPLE. Time is a-runnin’ out. Especially over here on the West Coast of Canada where we probably already bid farewell to our first and only snowfall of the Winter. It’s not uncommon to catch people walking around in February or March in shorts and t-shirts, something you would never even dream up of seeing in Toronto around this time of year. Soon, we’ll be trading in our best soup recipes for bright and vibrant salads. And though I’m not complaining, it’s soups like this Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon and Orzo that make me believe that maybe, just maybe, devouring a large hot steaming bowl of it right smack dab in the middle of the Summer is an exception I’m totally willing to make.
Craving comfort in a bowl? Look no further than the heartwarming deliciousness that I like to call Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon and Orzo. Unlike my favourite chicken soup recipe (aka the boyfriend’s famous… one of his signature dishes… and something I always demand from him when sickness comes a-knockin’), this version is full of Mediterranean flavours thanks to the lemon and oregano. It’s super light and refreshing but filling and satisfying at the exact same time. Is it just me, or is there just something special about soups with rice or pasta in it? I mean, soup AND pasta at the same time? Who’s not winning in a situation like that?!
This soul soothing soup blends the citrusy zing of fresh lemon with the wholesome goodness of chicken and orzo. Imagine tender chunks of chicken, perfectly browned to infuse richness, alongside some tender orzo pasta, making every spoonful burst with flavour. This easy to make soup is the ultimate remedy for chilly days or the perfect pick-me-up on long busy weeknights. So, if a bowl of homemade goodness that not only tantalizes your senses but transports you to the sun-kissed landscapes of the Mediterranean sounds good to you, then grab a spoon and let’s get started!
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE GREEK LEMON CHICKEN ORZO SOUP
Of course, we’ve got some of your typical chicken soup culprits here. But we also rely on the addition of a few simple ingredients that make this soup stand out from the chicken soup next door. Let’s discuss exactly what you’ll need to make this recipe in a little bit more detail down below:
- Chicken: The main source of protein in our Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon and Orzo. I like using boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes for this recipe. However, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, if you prefer. If you’re short on time, you can also use my Instant Pot Shredded Chicken instead which you can easily prepare in advance and then stir it into the soup base when you’re ready.
- Orzo: A type of pasta, made from wheat semolina, that is shaped like rice grains. It adds substance and texture to this Greek Chicken Soup recipe. You can use rice or a different kind of small pasta (like pastina) instead, if you prefer.
- Onions: Add flavour to the soup. Fresh chopped white or yellow onions work best in this recipe.
- Carrots: Contribute sweetness and a pop of colour to the soup.
- Celery: Adds a fresh, crisp texture and a mild flavour to the soup.
- Garlic: Enhances the overall flavour of the soup and adds a mild garlic flavour. Therefore, fresh minced garlic works best in this recipe.
- Chicken Broth: Serves as the liquid base of the soup, providing flavour. You can use a different kind of broth (such as turkey or vegetable) instead, if you prefer. Either homemade or store bought broth will work in this recipe.
- Lemon Juice: Adds a bright, tangy flavour and some acidity to the soup. Helps balance out the flavours of the rest of the ingredients.
- Oregano: Contributes a savoury and earthy flavour to the soup. Dried oregano works best in this recipe.
- Salt/Pepper: Essential in any soup recipe, IMHO! Both are used in moderation for seasoning. Salt enhances the overall flavour of the soup, while pepper adds a bit of heat.
- Parsley: Optional but used as a garnish, adding freshness and a burst of colour to the final dish. Therefore, fresh chopped parsley works best in this recipe.
- Olive Oil: Adds flavour to the soup – used in the initial browning stages of the chicken. You can use a different kind of oil (such as avocado) instead, if you prefer.
HOW TO MAKE GREEK CHICKEN SOUP WITH LEMON AND ORZO (KEY TIPS)
You can find full instructions for how to make this healthy recipe for Greek Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Dice and chop all ingredients before starting the cooking process. This makes the cooking flow smoothly and ensures that you have everything ready when needed. EXTRA TIP: Don’t cut the veggies too big. A nice dice and smaller pieces is what I find works best in this recipe.
- Brown/sear the chicken before adding the rest of the ingredients. The browning process adds a rich and savoury taste to the chicken, contributing depth to the overall flavour of the soup. While you can technically skip it and add raw chicken directly to the soup, taking the time to brown the chicken enhances the overall taste of the soup. EXTRA TIP: Don’t clean or wash the pot after browning the chicken and removing it. The browned bits at the bottom of the pot only mean extra FLAVOUR.
- Allow the soup to simmer after adding all the ingredients. Be patient with the simmering process as it helps the flavours meld together and develops a rich taste.
- Add fresh parsley just before serving for a burst of fresh flavour and vibrant colour. You can also add a few extra drops of fresh lemon juice at the end for a citrusy kick.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Start by searing the chicken in a hot pan before adding it to the soup. Searing helps lock in the juices and enhances the flavour. Brown the chicken on all sides for a few minutes for best and juiciest results. However, be mindful of the cooking time. Overcooking chicken can lead to dryness. Once the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature (165°F or 74°C), remove it from the pot. Remember, the chicken will cook a bit more in the final simmering stages of the soup. PRO TIP: Simmer the soup gently rather than boiling it vigorously. A gentle simmer allows the chicken to cook slowly and evenly without drying out.
Adding lemon to chicken soup serves several purposes, enhancing both the flavour and overall appeal of the dish. Lemon brings complexity, freshness, and balance to the dish. It’s a simple yet effective way to elevate the flavour profile of the soup and make it more vibrant and enjoyable. It adds a bright, citrusy flavour to the soup. The acidity of the lemon juice helps cut through the richness of the broth and other ingredients, creating a more balanced and refreshing taste. It contributes a pleasant aroma to the soup, and the combination of lemon and chicken creates a classic and comforting fragrance that is often associated with chicken soup.
If stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge, this soup will last for up to 4 days. The orzo will absorb some of the liquid as it sits in the broth. Therefore, when reheating the soup, do so gently over low heat to avoid overcooking the orzo and to preserve the flavours. You may need to add a bit of extra broth or water to adjust the consistency.
If you want to extend the shelf life, consider freezing the soup. Properly stored in airtight containers or freezer bags, Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon and Orzo can last in the freezer for 2-3 months. Freezing can affect the texture of the orzo, so you might notice some changes upon thawing.
- 1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, diced*
- 1 cup Orzo Pasta
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 2 Carrots, diced
- 2 Celery Stalks, diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 8 cups Chicken Broth
- 1/2 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Fresh Chopped Parsley, optional, for garnish
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
- In a large pot, sauté the diced chicken in half the oil until browned on both sides. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- In the same pot, add the remaining olive oil and sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic for a few minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the chicken broth and the orzo, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the orzo is cooked - about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the browned chicken back to the pot. Stir in lemon juice, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley.
If you're short on time, try using my Instant Pot Shredded Chicken instead which you can easily make in advance. To do so, skip step 1 and stir the cooked shredded chicken directly into the soup at step 4.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 2039mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 42g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
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