Lemon chicken orzo soup is cozy and comforting, and the bright, fresh flavor of lemon makes it taste just a little like spring.
Why you’ll love it: It’s an easy soup to make and everyone raves about it.
How long it takes: about an hour in the Instant Pot; a half hour on the stove
Equipment you’ll need: either an Instant Pot or large soup pan
Winter this year in Michigan has been absolutely relentless. Sub-zero temps, freezing rain, ice storms, and so much snow! Needless to say, this winter has been a big encouragement to create lots of new soup recipes. Nothing warms you up like a warm bowl of soup!
I’ve been using my Instant Pot so much that my stove is getting a little jealous. This soup can easily be made on the stovetop but it’s even easier to make in the Instant Pot.
With all the sickness floating around our house, we need all the soup we can get, and the lemon in this chicken orzo soup is perfect for those runny noses, coughs, and sore throats.
Spring, where are you? We all need you. Michigan needs you!
In the meantime, soup it is.
About This Recipe
This Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Orzo soup is a twist on a classic chicken noodle soup. I love chicken noodle soup (try my Instant Pot chicken noodle soup or Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Soup) but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up a little.
I realize not everyone is all about their Instant Pot like I am, so I have instructions for a stovetop version, as well, and actually, the stovetop version takes a little less time. It takes a bit of time for the Instant Pot to come to pressure so you have to figure that time in too.
This soup has all the cozy comforts you want in a chicken noodle soup: tender shredded chicken, lots of vegetables, pasta, and warm, soothing broth. However, the broth is brightened up by lots of fresh lemon juice and a little dill (I unapologetically love dill, if you haven’t noticed).
I love to use orzo in soup. This tiny pasta orzo nuzzles into your spoon cozily with the vegetables and chicken, so you get a perfect bite with all the ingredients each time. There’s no long noodles to slurp up or splash you.
I’ll run through both cooking methods here but you can find instructions for both methods on the recipe card below, along with measurements and nutrition information.
Instant Pot Method
Begin by sautéing the onions and celery in the Instant Pot using the Sauté function. Add the chicken breasts, along with the broth and water. Pressure cook the chicken for 11 minutes.
Carefully release all the pressure and remove the lid. Take the chicken out to cool slightly on a plate. When it’s cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred it.
Add the lemon juice, orzo, shredded carrots, dill, and garlic powder. Add the chicken, too. Bring the mixture to a boil, again using the Sauté function. Cook the soup until the orzo is tender, about 10 minutes or so.
Turn the Instant Pot to Warm and add the spinach. It will wilt really quickly and then your soup is ready to serve.
If you’re not quite ready to serve the soup yet, hold off on adding the spinach so it retains its nice dark green color.
To speed up cooking time, I recommend dicing the chicken into bite-sized pieces before adding it to the soup. You could cook the breast halves whole and shred them if that’s what you prefer but it will increase the cooking time. You can also use cooked chicken if you happen to have some around or rotisserie chicken if you want to make this a super quick and easy recipe.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Dice chicken and add diced chicken, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent.
Add broth, water, lemon juice, dill, and garlic and bring to a boil.
When boiling, add carrots and orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes (or as your orzo package directs), until orzo is al dente. Stir in spinach until wilted, and serve!
Lemon chicken orzo soup is very easy whether you make it on the stove or in your pressure cooker. You guys are going to love this one!
Make It Your Own
- Feel free to substitute vegetables that you like better, or happen to have, or add more vegetables. Cabbage oand kale are good substitutes for spinach but take longer to cook. Add them when you add the orzo.
- If you have fresh dill, by all means, substitute that. You’ll want to add more dill if it’s fresh, about 3 times more.
- I often use garlic powder if I’m out of fresh garlic. If you decide to use fresh garlic, mince a few cloves finely, and add the garlic to the vegetables when they have softened. Sauté the garlic a minute just to release the fragrance before continuing with the recipel
This soup freezes well so if you have extra, freeze it for future dinners. You could even make a double batch.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Refrigerate any soup that’s left over in an airtight or covered container. It will keep for three or four days. It can be frozen for at least 3 months.
Reheat individual portions in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Larger amounts can be reheated in a saucepan on the stove.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced or thinly sliced celery
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth (low sodium or unsalted)
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or up to 2 pounds)
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup shredded carrots (or finely diced)
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed
- Heat Instant Pot to "Sauté." Add oil, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add broth, water, and chicken. Secure lid and turn valve to "seal." Set Instant Pot on Pressure Cook (or Manual, high pressure) for 11 minutes. Quick release pressure when done cooking and carefully remove lid.
- Transfer chicken to a plate and turn Instant Pot back to Sauté. Add lemon juice, dill weed, garlic powder, carrots, and orzo. Bring to a boil and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until orzo is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes (check the package for exact cooking time).
- Meanwhile, shred chicken with two forks and return to pot when shredded.
- When orzo has finished cooking, turn Instant Pot to warm and add spinach and stir to wilt. Taste and adjust seasoning for salt and pepper. You may also add more chicken broth or water if it’s thicker than you like.
- Dice chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add diced chicken, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add broth, water, lemon juice, dill, and garlic; bring to a boil.
- Add carrots and orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes (follow orzo package directions), until orzo is al dente. Stir in spinach until wilted, and serve!
- If you’re not quite ready to serve the soup, wait to add the spinach. Keep the soup warm and add the spinach right before serving so it retains its fresh flavor and color.
- To speed up cooking time when making the stovetop version, I recommend dicing the chicken into bite-sized pieces before adding it to the soup. You could cook it whole and shred it if that’s what you prefer, but it will slightly increase the cooking time. You can also substitute cooked or rotisserie chicken if you want to make this a super quick and easy recipe.
- Leftover soup can be refrigerated for three or four days or frozen for at least 3 months.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.