I know it’s almost spring, so our time for soup is really winding down, but I think this soup recipe is perfect for this time of year. It’s light, brothy, full of flavor, and very refreshing with the hint of lemon and fresh grassy parsley, yet definitely filling enough to be a meal. I saw this recipe on a blog that I like, Two Peas and Their Pod, and didn’t really do too much to it except to add some fresh spinach. As usual, this soup starts with carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, but that’s about the extent of the work involved. It uses a rotisserie chicken (mine was kind of a bigger one this time, so I didn’t even need it all) and store-bought broth. If you’re feeling froggy, go ahead and make your own.
Now I have to tell you, when I was adding the lemon zest and juice to the soup, I kind of wondered if it would be too tart and overpowering because it was a lot of zest and my lemons seemed really juicy. But, I was pleasantly surprised that it was just the right amount. The lemon was not overwhelming at all, it just kind of blended nicely with all of the other flavors and was really mellow. I used one and a fourth cups of orzo in mine, and it was a pretty substantial amount of orzo. You could use less if you don’t like as much in yours. If you anticipate having leftovers (it does make a pretty big batch), you might even consider cooking the orzo separately and combining it with the soup in the individual serving bowls. I cooked it all together and the orzo sucked up all of the broth in the leftover soup, but it was ok because I just added some additional broth when we heated up our leftovers. So that’s your call!
This was my first time making this, and Tim, my mom, and I all loved it! And bonus – it’s pretty healthy! I’ll definitely make it again. I’m so glad to have another soup recipe in my arsenal!
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large (or 3 small) carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 8 cups of fat-free low sodium chicken broth
- Zest and juice (about 1/3 of a cup) of 2 lemons
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/4 cups orzo pasta
- about 2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- a couple of generous handfuls of fresh spinach
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add the broth, bay leaf, lemon zest, and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the orzo is tender. Add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes to allow it to heat through. Stir in spinach and allow it to wilt for about one minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and stir in the parsley.