No question that Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup is pure delicious comfort food. We’ve added a Thai-style twist – a splash of coconut milk and some heat – that takes it in a new direction.
Still dairy-free, this yummy soup has a lemony overtone with a hint of coconut and spiciness. I used only 1/2 cup of coconut milk so it is not overpowering. You can, of course, increase the ratio of coconut milk to chicken broth. You can also add other Thai flavors such as basil or cilantro as garnish. I ate this soup for days and could have kept going. I gave away some to my friend Jordan who quite liked it as well. (Glad he did or I would have been grumpy that I didn’t get more!).
I’m calling this a soup, but it’s really a meal in a bowl, loaded with carrots, onions, celery, spinach, orzo and chicken. As always, the variations for this kind of recipe are pretty endless, so create away. The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes as long as you dice the vegetables fairly small so they will cook more quickly.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Experiment with flavors by adding coriander, basil and/or ginger.
- Add more coconut milk if you like and reduce the amount of broth accordingly.
- Instead of orzo, use other small pasta or even rice noodles. It might be better to cook rice noodles separately and add them to the soup before serving.
- Vary the spice with as much or as little chili flakes as you like. Or leave it out and add some pepper.
- I use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, but of course left over chicken or even fresh chicken (cooked in the broth for about 15 minutes then diced) would be perfect too.
- Use diced rotisserie chicken.
- You can chop the onions, carrots and celery by pulsing them in the processor.
- Use chopped garlic from a jar or frozen minced garlic cubes (I love those).
Make Ahead Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup Thai-Style
- Yes! I love this soup even more the next day – and the next. As noted in the recipe, you might have to add as it sits around in the fridge as the orzo absorbs quite a bit of it. Alternatively, cook the orzo separately and store it in the fridge in a separate sealed container, then add it as needed.
Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup Thai Style
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion (1 medium)
- 2 cups diced carrots, 1/2-3/4 inch (3-4 carrots)
- 2 cups diced celery, 1/2-3/4 inch (3-4 stalks)
- 3 tsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (or more to taste)
- 3 tbsp flour (use 4 tbsp. if you want a thicker soup with more body)
- 8 cups chicken broth (64 ounces or 2 boxes)
- 1 lemon (juice + zest) or more to taste
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste (depends on saltiness of broth)
- 1 cup dried orzo
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (for cooking, not dessert)
- 3 cups cooked chicken cut into 1 inch chunks (2/3-1 rotisserie chicken is perfect)
- 3-4 cups fresh baby spinach
- Garnish: chopped or dried coriander or basil (Optional)
- SAUTE VEGETABLES and MAKE BASE: Heat large soup pot to medium. Add and heat oil. Add onion, celery and carrots. Saute for 7 minutes. Add garlic and red chili flakes. Saute 30 seconds. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
- ADD BROTH AND COOK ORZO: Stir in broth, lemon juice and salt. Bring to boil. Add orzo (Note 1). When mixture comes to boil again, lower heat to medium and simmer for about 8 minutes or until orzo and vegetables are tender (or still have a slight bite if you prefer).
- FINISH SOUP: Stir in coconut milk and lemon zest. Add chicken and spinach. Stir until spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt, lemon, chili flakes). Note 2. Garnish with chopped coriander or basil if desired.
- Orzo: If you plan to have leftovers and you don't like your orzo too soft, you can boil it (and store it) separately, just adding it to soup when serving. You will need to cook the soup, regardless, for about 8-10 minutes to soften the vegetables.
- Thickness of soup: This soup will thicken up as it sits around or in the fridge as the orzo absorbs some of the broth. You may need to add extra broth. If, instead, the soup is too thin at the end and you prefer your soup full bodied (almost like a chowder), mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water until smooth, then added it to the simmering broth to thicken it.
Other soups you might like:
Vegetable Bean and Barley Soup get the recipe
Hearty Ratatouille Soup get the recipe
Roasted Vegetable and Rice Soup get the recipe