Dinner Freezer Meals Make Ahead - Heat & Serve Recipes

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo garnished with fresh parsley in a white ceramic soup crock

Chicken soup is such a classic winter comfort food meal. But have you ever tried to brighten it up with some citrus flavor? For this Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo, I added a squeeze of fresh lemon and switched out the heavy noodles for orzo. The results were delicious.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo is a perfect spring time dinner. Light jacket weather and bright citrusy soup at the end of the day are a match made in heaven.

The recipe starts with the standard vegetable trifecta (carrots, onion and celery), then add garlic, chicken stock, chicken, orzo and lemon. That’s the whole recipe in a nut shell. Simple, healthy and incredibly yummy.

About the Ingredients

Vegetables – carrots, onion and celery. Everything chopped small.

Minced garlic – this soup doesn’t have a ton of seasonings or spices so feel free to use a heavy hand for extra flavor.

Flour all-purpose flour thickens up the broth a little. But this isn’t a thick creamy soup. It just gives it a little fuller body.

Chicken Stock – you need a lot because the orzo is going to get cooked right into the soup. It will absorb some liquid. If the soup gets too thick as it cooks, just add some extra water.

Chicken thighs – 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. These get cooked right in the soup which gives the broth such a rich flavor. If you prefer white meat, feel free to swap the thighs for breasts.

Orzo – 1 cup poured right into the soup uncooked.

Lemon – if you have fresh lemon start with the juice of half the lemon and taste for tartness. Add more until you find your “sweet spot.” If you’re using the bottled lemon juice, begin with 1 1/2 tablespoons. Again, taste it and add more if you like. You can always add but never take back so go slow.

A close up of Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

How to Make Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Begin by chopping and sautéing the carrots, onion and celery in a large dutch oven or stock pot. Once the veggies are soft, add the minced garlic and flour and continue cooking for another minute or so. Be sure to stir everything together so that the garlic doesn’t burn and the raw flour taste cooks off. 

Sautéing the vegetables, garlic and flour for the base of Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Add the chicken stock now. It will look like a lot of liquid, but the orzo is going to absorb some of it and a small amount will boil down so be sure to add the full amount.

Bring the stock to a boil and add the chicken thighs to the pot. Boil the chicken for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes add the dry orzo and continue to boil for another 10 minutes.

Adding the chicken thighs to Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

The chicken should be completely cooked and tender by now. Using two forks pull the chicken apart into bite sized pieces. The last step is to add the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper. Your soup is ready to serve. 

Pulling apart the chicken after it's cooked in the Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Recipe Substitutions & Variations

A variation of this recipe is to add some spinach right to the soup. Spinach will beef it up a little and add some extra nutrients. Use about 2 cups of packed baby spinach and add it to the soup when you add the lemon juice. The spinach with wilt down and blend in nicely.

Make Ahead Instructions

Another busy weeknight calls for another soup dinner. Welcome to our weekly dinner lineup Make Ahead Lemon Chicken with Orzo Soup. 

The absolute best part of having soup for dinner is that you can make it whenever you have time and save it to reheat when you’re ready to eat. Most soups not only store in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but they actually gain a little bit of flavor as they sit. 

Follow the recipe as written, but don’t add the orzo straight to the soup. Instead, cook the orzo in a separate pot of boiling and salted water according to the package directions. Drain the orzo and save it in an airtight container in the refrigerator separate from the soup. Once the soup is totally cooked, you can take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Then store the soup and its own container in the refrigerator also. 

When you’re ready to eat, the soup, simply combine it with the cooked orzo in one pot and bring it to a simmer on the stove. Once it’s simmering, it is ready to eat. 

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo served in a crock

How to Freeze Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Follow the recipe is written, but don’t add the orzo to the soup. Instead, turn off the heat and let the soup cool to room temperature. Store it in air tight containers, leaving a little room for the soup to expand on frozen, and move the containers to the freezer for up to two months. 

When you’re ready, defrost the soup in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to heat bring the soup to a boil on the stove. Add a cup of dry or so, and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes. If the soup gets a little thick, it is because the orzo absorbed some of the liquid. You can add water to the broth as needed.

FAQ’s and Recipe Tips

What should I serve with Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo?

Like any good brothy soup, I like to serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches or crusty bread for dipping.

Can I make Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo ahead of time?

Yes – just cook the orzo separately so it doesn’t continue to absorb the soup broth while it sits in the refrigerator. See the instructions above for more details.

Dipping focaccia bread in Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

The Recipe for Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing.  If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought and how much lemon much lemon was the right amount for you. Enjoy!

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo garnished with fresh parsley in a white ceramic soup crock

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

A brighter spin on classic chicken soup. The chicken and orzo cooks right in the same pot making this a terrific one dish dinner.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Active time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Greek
Servings 4 people


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • 1 cup orzo pasta uncooked
  • tbsp lemon juice


  • Peel and chop the carrots and onion, and chop the celery.
    2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 onion
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a hot dutch oven or large stock pot. Add the chop vegetables and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
    2 tbsp butter
  • Add the flour and minced garlic to the vegetables and continue cooking while stirring for 1 minutes.
    2 tsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Pour the stock and water over the vegetables and bring to a boil.
    6 cups chicken stock, 1 cup water
  • Place the chicken thighs in the boiling stock and press down to fully submerge. Boil for 15 minutes.
    3 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • Add the orzo to the boiling stock and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
    1 cup orzo pasta
  • Pull the chicken apart into bite sized pieces using two forks.
  • Add the lemon juice and taste for seasonings. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
    1½ tbsp lemon juice


If the soup gets a little too thick and needs extra broth add an additional cup of water. Be sure to taste again for lemon, salt and pepper to be sure the flavor didn’t get watered down too much. 
See blog post directions for making ahead and/or freezing the soup at https://looksdelic.com/lemon-chicken-soup-with-orzo/ 
Keyword chicken thighs, soup

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