Greek Lemon Orzo Soup with Chicken

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: October 29, 2023

Last Updated: April 7th, 20240 Comments on Greek Lemon Orzo Soup with Chicken
My Greek Lemon and Orzo Soup with Chicken has all the creamy, comforting qualities you’ll love without feeling heavy. It’s a light, bright and truly delicious bowl of Greek and Mediterranean flavour.
A bowl of Greek lemon orzo soup with chicken with a spoon

Talk about the taste of Greece! This soup is utterly delicious - a light, bright and zingy soup that's brimming over with Mediterranean personality. Lemon takes centre stage but in a rounded more floral form that permeates the lightly creamy sauce.

This is MY version of Greek Avgolemono, a thick and creamy soup that uses egg yolks and/or bread to thicken the soup until it's rich and creamy. Honestly, I often don't have the patience for this stage so skip it in favour of a thinner but still deliciously moreish consistency. This is why I stopped short of calling my recipe Avgolemono, as I didn't want the Greek community coming for me.

I typically make this soup with orzo, but if I'm out I'll substitute with any small pasta shape, broken up spaghetti and also rice. Orzo is the best I reckon, so this recipe uses that.

What's Ahead?

A bowl of Greek lemon orzo soup with chicken with a spoon

What is Avgolemono?

Avgolemono is a classic Greek sauce or soup made with eggs, lemon juice, and broth. The name "Avgolemono" is derived from the Greek words "avgo," which means egg, and "lemono," which means lemon. It is known for its creamy and tangy flavor, and it is a popular element in Greek cuisine.

Why it works?

It's filling yet light - often creamy soups can feel heavy and rich, but the use of lemon in the sauce makes the soup lighter and brighter. It's still warming, comforting and filling but won't make you groan with fullness.

The ingredients for Greek lemon orzo soup. Lemon, orzo, chicken thighs, zucchini, celery, onion, cream, herbs and more. 

Stuff You'll Need

There's a role-call of healthiness in my Lemon Orzo Soup and nothing too taxing to find in any supermarket. Here are the key flavours...

  • Chicken thighs - I prefer thighs as I can buy them bone-in which adds a tonne of flavour to the soup. You could replace with breast, but would need to replace the water with chicken broth to maintain a good level of chicken flavour.
  • Vegetables - Onion, celery, garlic and my own addition of zucchini make up the vegetable components and the backbone of the soup.
  • Herbs - a little thyme and bay leaf bring their herbaceous fragrance to the soup.
  • Orzo - the small, rice shaped pasta is traditional. But I sometimes substitute with small pasta shapes or broken up spaghetti. I'll often replace with rice too.
  • Lemon - the key component to the soup. We use both the zest and the juice to create a truly rounded lemon fragrance and flavour.

Step by Step

Making the soup is a one-pan affair with little in the way of 'technique' here are the key stages of cooking. It's pretty much just adding and taking out ingredients - super easy!

  1. Step 1 - Brown some chicken thighs (skin on, bone-in) until lightly browned. Remove them from the pan...
  2. Step 2 - Add the diced vegetables, garlic and herbs and sauce until soft.
  3. Step 3 - Return the chicken to the pan and add the salt & pepper and lemon zest.
  4. Step 4 - Top up with water and pop on a lid for 1 hour
  5. Step 5 - Remove the chicken from the pan, remove and discard the skin and bones and chop the meat.
  6. Step 6 - Add the orzo and cook it to the packet instructions.
  7. Step 7 - Return the chopped chicken to the pan.
  8. Step 8 - Pour in the cream and lemon juice and stir well. Remove from the heat.
  9. Step 9 - Spoon into bowls and scatter over some fresh chopped parsley.
Growing the skin on three chicken thighs in a pan.
Frying diced onion, celery and zucchini in a pan
three chicken thighs on top of sautéed onion, zucchini and celery scattered with lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Topping up the soup ingredients with water.
a pan of soup bubbling. tongs hold a chicken thigh as it is removed from the pan.
A small bowl of orzo pasta is poured into a pan of bubbling soup.
Chopped cooked chicken thighs are returned to the pan of soup.
cream and lemon juice is stirred into the final lemon orzo soup.
A bowl of Greek lemon orzo soup with chicken with a spoon

Pro Tips

  • No orzo? Fear not, if you can't get hold of orzo, substitute with other small soup pasta shapes like macaroni, anelli, ditalini or broken up spaghetti or capellini. You can also use some regular long grain rice.
  • Avgolemono technique - if you DO want to make this soup using the traditional avgolemono technique. At the end of cooking, before adding the cream and lemon juice, instead which together the lemon juice, cream and two egg yolks until combined. Add 1 ladleful of soup into the egg yolks and beat in. Then another ladleful of soup and repeat once more. Then, pour this into the soup and stir over a moderate heat until thick and creamy.

Serving & Storage Suggestions

  • This soup is best enjoyed hot and right away. Adding pasta to a soup shortens its lifespan as the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid and the soup can quickly become stodgy. However, orzo is pretty robust and it won't break up, so I've found this soup is actually pretty good in the fridge or freezer. One tip would be to add a little chicken broth if it's become too thick. Reheat until piping hot.
  • Fridge - it'll be fine for 3-4 days in the fridge in airtight containers.
  • Freezer - freeze for up to 3 months in airtight containers.
A bowl of Greek lemon orzo soup with chicken with a spoon

Ready to get cooking?

Trust me when I say, this soup is really delicious. A revelation of lemony goodness that comforts, warms and rejuvenates the soul without making me want to have a lie down afterwards.

You can see for yourself just how easy it is to make at home too, there's nothing to it. Let me know what YOU think if you make it. I hope you enjoy...

A bowl of Greek lemon orzo soup with chicken with a spoon
A bowl of Greek lemon orzo soup with chicken with a spoon

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about my Greek Lemon Orzo Soup with Chicken? Let me know in the comments.

What is Agvolemono?

Avgolemono is a traditional Greek sauce or soup that combines eggs and lemon juice in a creamy, tangy blend with hot broth. The name originates from Greek words "avgo" (egg) and "lemono" (lemon). Typically used in chicken and rice soup, it adds a zesty touch to various Greek dishes.

What is Orzo?

Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta made from durum wheat semolina. It's a versatile ingredient used in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. Orzo can be cooked and served like rice or used in soups, salads, and side dishes. Its unique shape and mild flavor make it a popular choice in a variety of recipes.

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A bowl of Greek lemon orzo soup with chicken with a spoon

Greek Lemon Orzo Soup with Chicken

Rate this recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Recipe by Lee
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Greek, Mediterranean
Prep Time10 minutes
1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 62

Video Recipe

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a moderate heat. Fry chicken both sides for about 5 minutes until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the onion, celery, garlic and zucchini to the pan and gently fry for around 8 minutes until soft and lightly golden.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and add salt & pepper and the lemon zest.
  • Add 3 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Simmer for 50 minutes then remove the chicken and shred or chop (discard skin and bone). Set aside.
  • Add orzo and cook for around 8 minutes (or whatever your packet instructions direct).
  • Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the cream and lemon juice and bring to simmer.
  • Turn off heat, check seasoning and serve.
  • Serve in bowls scattered with some freshly chopped parsley.

Notes

Serving & Storage Suggestions

  • This soup is best enjoyed hot and right away. Adding pasta to a soup shortens its lifespan as the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid and the soup can quickly become stodgy. However, orzo is pretty robust and it won't break up, so I've found this soup is actually pretty good in the fridge or freezer. One tip would be to add a little chicken broth if it's become too thick. Reheat until piping hot.
  • Fridge - it'll be fine for 3-4 days in the fridge in airtight containers.
  • Freezer - freeze for up to 3 months in airtight containers.

Pro Tips

  • No orzo? Fear not, if you can't get hold of orzo, substitute with other small soup pasta shapes like macaroni, anelli, ditalini or broken up spaghetti or capellini. You can also use some regular long grain rice.
  • Avgolemono technique - if you DO want to make this soup using the traditional avgolemono technique. At the end of cooking, before adding the cream and lemon juice, instead which together the lemon juice, cream and two egg yolks until combined. Add 1 ladleful of soup into the egg yolks and beat in. Then another ladleful of soup and repeat once more. Then, pour this into the soup and stir over a moderate heat until thick and creamy.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 62kcal (3%) | Fat: 7g (11%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 0.1mg | Potassium: 0.1mg | Calcium: 0.1mg | Iron: 0.04mg
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