Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Chicken soup from scratch is one of the cheapest, but most satisfying meals to make. If you start with a whole chicken, you get tons of meat as well as tasty homemade broth for your soup. I have been making homemade chicken noodle soup for years, and decided to do a variation with some added lemon and orzo. We had this for dinner and then I ate leftovers for 2 days for lunch and it made such a good lunch that I looked forward to eating.

The first step to making your own broth is remove the neck/organs from the cavity of the chicken (if they are there, some brands remove them and some include). You can use the neck to help flavor your broth. I discard the organ meat. After heating a little oil in a stock pot, brown the chicken skin all over, as that gives a lot of good flavor. Then cover with water, add an onion and a carrot and simmer for 2 hours until the meat is falling off the bones and your broth has great chicken flavor.

I’ve mentioned before that I love using this Chicken Powder. I add a small amount of that to the broth. Not enough to alter the taste, but just enough to boost the chicken notes. Straining the broth makes a nice clear chicken stock, and you can shred the meat to add back to the pot later.

I also add some chopped onion, garlic, carrot, celery, spinach and lemon to the soup, along with the orzo, thyme and oregano. You can adjust the amount of lemon to your taste.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Homemade chicken soup with lemon and orzo
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Course Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Servings 6 servings


For the broth/meat:

  • 1 whole chicken cavity contents removed
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp chicken powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion peeled and halved
  • 1 carrot cleaned and ends cut off
  • fresh herbs if you like I used a little parsley and thyme

For the soup:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 ribs celery diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, dill and oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 8 cups chicken broth from above or use store bought
  • lemon juice to taste I probably used 3 tbsp or so
  • 1 cup dried orzo cooked
  • 2 cups fresh spinach or other green


To make the broth:

  • Add oil to a large stock pot over medium high heat. When hot, add the whole chicken and allow it to cook without moving it for a few minutes until the skin gets nicely browned. Turn over and brown the other side. Add in the onion, carrot, herbs, chicken powder if using, some salt and pepper and enough water to cover the chicken.
  • Bring to almost a boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer for about 2 hours or so until the meat is falling off the bone and you have a rich broth. Remove the chicken to a bowl to cool, then remove the chicken from the bones.
  • Strain the broth in a colander lined with paper towel or cheese cloth into a large bowl. This clarifies the broth. You can just pour through the strainer without the added filtering if you prefer that.

For the soup:

  • Heat a little oil in your stock pot then add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are lightly cooked. Add in the spices and chicken and broth you made and taste it for seasoning. Add extra salt, chicken powder, pepper, herbs etc. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes to allow veggies to get tender.
  • Meanwhile cook the orzo and rinse with cold water. When the soup is ready, add in the spinach and cook until wilted as well as the lemon juice and orzo. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve.
Keyword Chicken, Lunch, Main Dish, Soup

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