Creamy lemon chicken orzo soup (30-minute recipe)


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Anything with the words ‘creamy’, ‘lemon’ or ‘orzo’ in, and I’m sold. So how could a soup with all three of these in, plus CHICKEN, be anything but delicious? And the best thing is, this creamy lemon chicken orzo soup only takes 30 minutes to make!

Closeup of someone eating lemon chicken orzo soup out of a white bowl with a spoon with lemons and other ingredients in the background

There are so many cool things about this creamy lemon chicken orzo soup, I’m not sure where to begin. I think what I like most about it is that while it’s a nice chunky soup with plenty of veggie goodness in it (don’t you just hate those soups that you buy from the supermarket that are all watery and have about half a veggie in them?), it’s also ‘light’ enough to throw in a Tupperware and take to work for lunch.

And of course, as I’ve already said (but I’ll say it again just so you get how much I love this soup), it’s got that triple whammy of creamy, lemon and orzo in it to make it extra yummy.

You might be wondering why I didn’t use milk to win a few more points in the ‘healthy’ department? Well, to be honest I did consider it, but I was worried about the lemon juice curdling the milk, which doesn’t happen so easily with cream.

And the thing is, there is really quite a small amount of cream in it – only a third of a cup in the whole pot, which serves at least 4, if not more.

Not that we’re worried about a little cream, of course.

Collage of 2 images showing the vegetables cooking for a soup and also the finished chicken orzo soup with a ladle.

The other little trick I used to make this lovely and lemony (but not overwhelmingly so) was to add just 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, which is equivalent to about the juice of a small lemon. But then I added the zest of the lemon, too. This way there’s no chance of any unpleasant curdling.

What’s orzo, anyway?

The orzo, or risoni – which is sort of rice-shaped pasta, in case  you were wondering – is the soup version of the icing on the cake. You only need about ¾ of a cup, less if you like, to make a lovely hearty soup.

And if you can’t find orzo where you live (it’s fairly tricky to find here in the UK, actually!), giant or Israeli couscous would work instead. Or any small pasta shape really.

If you want to go completely wild, why not sub the orzo for gnocchi, or tortellini? Both of these cook quickly, so you could just add them in at the appropriate moment just before the soup’s finished cooking.

Closeup of creamy lemon chicken orzo soup in a pot from above with a black ladle in it.

Do you cook the orzo before adding it to the soup?

Nope. Add it with the stock and let it simmer for 10 minutes as you would regular pasta. Delicious!

This is definitely going to be a regular in our soup rotation. It’s a perfect winter warmer for this time of year, exciting  and filling enough to cheer you up on a dreary mid-winter day, but not so heavy that you don’t have room for dessert! 😉

P.S.  like to use a cast iron Dutch oven pot like this one to cook this soup! This pot is great. Just like a Le Creuset cast iron pot, but not as expensive. 

And if you like this recipe…



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Someone eating from a bowl of chicken orzo soup with a spoon and with ingredients and a red pot in the background.
5 from 8 votes

Creamy Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup

Looking for a healthy, warm and cozy soup? This creamy chicken lemon orzo soup really hits the spot and is so simple to make!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 (at least)


  • 1 pound chicken thighs, skinless & boneless, chopped into small pieces and rolled in about 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, large, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1.5 teaspoons Italian herbs, dried, or ½ teaspoon each oregano, thyme, basil
  • 2 bay leaves, (optional)
  • 1 parmesan rind, (optional)
  • 7 cups chicken broth, (UK/Australia = stock)
  • 0.75 cups orzo pasta, dried (or other small pasta)
  • 0.33 cups cream
  • 2 handfuls spinach, chopped
  • 1 lemon, small (zest & juice), equal to about 3 tablespoons juice
  • salt and pepper


  • Pan fry the chicken pieces in a large saucepan or heavy-bottomed casserole dish in a large drizzle of oil for a few minutes until all the pieces have turned white. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add a little more oil to the pan and saute the onion, carrots, and celery together for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the garlic and herbs to the pan and stir for a few seconds, then add the bay leaves and parmesan rind (if using), stock, and orzo. Add the chicken back into the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the orzo is cooked.
  • Finally, add the cream, spinach, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and serve!


Orzo pasta is sometimes called risoni.
I actually didn’t have quite enough orzo left the last time I made this soup, so I made up the rest with giant couscous. Use any small pasta you like if you can’t find orzo! Gnocchi and tortellini also works well in this soup. Just adjust the cooking time according to the package instructions.
This soup is on the chunky side, but feel free to add a bit more water at the end if you think you’d prefer a thinner soup (obviously this will also make it go a bit further!).


Calories: 484kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 138mg, Sodium: 1652mg, Potassium: 968mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 6980IU, Vitamin C: 52.5mg, Calcium: 115mg, Iron: 2.9mg
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About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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  1. 5 stars
    Sweet lord Helen!!! Amazing texture and flavourful!! Every mouthful is different and the flavour gets better as the days go by. Perfect for my partner’s lunch in a flask.❤❤❤❤❤ I’ve had this for breakfast on cold mornings. Xx

    1. This is wonderful to hear, Sammy! Thank you so much for letting me know! I love that you sent it to work in a flask… and even ate it for breakfast! Why not??!! 🙂