chicken and orzo soup

with lemon and garlic
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 5 ounces shredded kale or spinach (about 8 cups)
  • 2 lemons zest + juice
  • 1 pound orzo

Instructions

  • Season 2 large chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add chicken and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to low, add 6 garlic cloves. Cook for 3 minutes, until golden.
  • Add 2 cups carrots, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes; add 8 cups chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or up to 4-6 hours over low heat.
  • Using tongs, remove the chicken and shred. Stir in the  ½ cup Parmesan, 5 oz shredded kale, and zest and juice from 2 lemons. Cook for 5 minutes before stirring in shredded chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 1 lb. orzo according to package directions, until al dente. Drain.
  • Divide orzo among individual bowls and pour soup over top. Top with more shredded Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon, if desired.

SLOW COOKER METHOD

  • In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine 3 tablespoons oil, 2 large chicken breasts, 6 garlic cloves, 2 cups carrots, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 8 cups chicken broth and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.
  • Once finished, remove the chicken and shred. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan, 5 cups shredded kale and zest and juice from 2 lemons. Add shredded chicken and warm for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 1 lb. orzo according to package directions, until al dente. Drain.
  • Divide orzo among individual bowls and pour soup over top. Top with more shredded Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon, if desired.

INSTANT POT METHOD

  • Season 2 chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Set Instant Pot to sauté and add 3 tablespoons oil. Once hot, add chicken and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Stir in 6 cloves garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until golden. Add 2 cups carrots, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Add 8 cups chicken broth , cover and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken and shred.
  • Set Instant Pot to sauté and stir in the 1 lb. orzo, ½ cup Parmesan, 5 cups shredded kale and zest and juice from 2 lemons. Cook 8 minutes, until the orzo is al dente. Stir in shredded chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide soup evenly among the bowls. Top with more shredded Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon, if desired.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • Serve with a salad mix and garlic bread or breadsticks to complete this meal.

SWAP SUGGESTIONS

  • Vegetarian: Instead of chicken, add a can of white beans to the soup or double the carrots. For a creamier soup, purée half of the white beans with some chicken broth.
  • Chicken: You can use any variety of boneless chicken. Chicken breasts, thighs, tenders, etc. You can also use a shredded rotisserie chicken that you stir in at the end.
  • Greens: You can swap the kale for baby spinach, Swiss chard or escarole.
  • Gluten-Free: Swap orzo with a gluten-free orzo or quinoa.
  • MAKE AHEAD
  • Soup can be made in advance with the exception of cooking the orzo. Cool completely and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, reheat on stove and stir in cooked orzo.

Nutrition

Calories: 556kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 376mg | Potassium: 1023mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 9656IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 201mg | Iron: 3mg