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Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup

This Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup is like a comforting hug in a bowl, full of warmth & good stuff that’ll take that northerly wind chill right out of your bones. You know exactly what we’re talking about - helllooo October! 🍁 🍂 We’re conjuring up images of hunting lodges, crackling fires, and lots of cashmere. Are you with us?

This is simple enough for a weeknight meal but can be dressed up easily for weekend guests. It’s just the ticket after a long walk in the woods when your body is hankering after a little vodka or a vat of soup to warm up (or both, if that’s how you roll). How would we serve this for a gather&be moment? In a bottomless bowl with a sprinkle of chives and hunks of freshly baked bread, with the obligatory nap to follow before the evening shenanigans begin!

Using a rotisserie chicken cuts prep time down significantly and much of this can be made ahead (before that walk), and finished as your guests warm their toes by the fire. Don’t be put off by the final step of whisking in the eggs. It’s a little effort that makes or breaks this soup, adding a silky richness and depth. Just make sure that you whisk it off the heat, and reheat any leftovers gently, whilst stirring. For a one pot wonder meal, you can add the orzo to the pot and let it cook that way. Personally, I prefer to cook the orzo separately so that any leftovers won’t have globs of overcooked orzo in it, and those pasta lovers in the family can get an extra helping in their bowls!

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced

  • 8 cups (4 pints or 1.9 L) chicken broth

  • 1 cup (200g) orzo

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded. Keep the bones for stock!

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, add more to taste

  • a few handfuls of chopped baby spinach

  • salt & pepper

  • chives to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté for 5-7 minutes until the onions start to become translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then simmer. If you choose to cook the orzo in the same pot, add the orzo now, give it a good stir and leave it for 8 minutes to cook. If you’re counting on leftovers, prepare the orzo separately and add it to the bowls as you serve. Add the shredded chicken. You can make it ahead up to this point. Either leave it (heat off) on the stove if you’re only going for a walk, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate until you’re ready to continue.

To finish the soup, take it off the heat (or warm to a simmer if it’s cold and then take it off the heat). Whisk together the eggs and the lemon juice in a medium bowl or better yet, a heat-proof pitcher. Slowly add a ladle of the hot soup to the egg mixture whilst whisking. The idea is to warm the eggs slowly so they won’t curdle. Add two more ladles of soup to the egg mixture, slowly, and whisking all the while. Now you need to add that egg-lemon-soup mixture to the rest of the soup. Slowly pour in the egg mixture whilst stirring the pot. You don’t want to turn on the heat as it may get too hot and scramble the eggs. But you want the residual heat in the pot to be enough to cook the egg and give it that lovely, silky finish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Careful! Depending on which broth you use, you may not need to add that much more salt.

To serve, add a few spoons of orzo to each bowl (if you haven’t cooked it in the soup already), and a small handful of chopped baby spinach. Ladle the soup into the bowls making sure you get all the good bits. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with chunks of warm bread. Dive in!

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