You know those thick, hearty soups that get you through a winter storm or a traditional chicken noodle soup for those sick days? Well, this is not one of those soups. This soup has a lighter, lemony broth with chicken, vegetables, and orzo pasta. You can eat it all year long, no matter the season. The bright citrus flavors have me imagining a light lunch on a sunny balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. In my mind anyway. You don't even need to book a trip to Tuscany because this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Panera Style can be on the table in 30 minutes. My easy recipe serves two or you can double it for next day leftovers. This will become one of your favorite soups!
Is Orzo Lemon Chicken Soup healthy?
One serving of Panera bread lemon chicken orzo soup has approximately 21 grams protein, 135% of the daily recommended Vitamin A, as well as decent amounts of potassium, vitamin B, Calcium and Iron. It contains 994mg of sodium if made using low sodium chicken broth and chicken base. For those on special diets, always follow the recommendations of your doctor or your dietitian. Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.
- Olive oil
- Onion (or onion powder in a pinch, if you don't have an onion)
- Garlic (or garlic powder in a pinch if you don't have garlic)
- Bay leaf
- Chicken broth (or chicken stock, but your soup will be a little more chicken flavor forward which might overpower the lemon. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed)
- Orzo pasta
- Fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest
- Cooked chicken (suggestions)
- Shredded rotisserie chicken
- Baked boneless chicken thighs
- Baked boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Leftover cooked chicken
- Canned chicken
- Chicken base. I like Better Than Bouillon brand Low-Sodium Roasted Chicken base.
- Baby spinach, fresh is best!
- Fresh thyme
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Lemon slices
- Crusty bread
Instructions for Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup:
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the carrots, celery and onion.
- Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the garlic and bay leaf and cook for an additional minute. (You do not want the vegetables to caramelize, you are just looking to soften them.)
- Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add four cups of broth (or stock) to the pot with the vegetables.
- Bring to a rolling boil then reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the orzo pasta, the chicken base, and the lemon juice to the pot. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the orzo is al dente.
- Add the diced or shredded chicken. Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the fresh thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cook for an additional two minutes.
- Add the baby spinach to the pot and stir until the spinach is wilted. Taste the soup, then season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
- Serve immediately in bowls, garnished with lemon slices and Parmesan cheese, with crusty French bread on the side.
Can I make this lemon chicken orzo soup recipe in my slow cooker?
Yes! If you have a long time to cook the soup, you could prepare it in a slow cooker to bring out the lemon and garlic flavors even more. I recommend adding all the ingredients except the spinach and lemon zest to the slow cooker and setting it for low cook for 4 hours.
Does Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup freeze well?
This Panera Bread Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup copycat recipe freezes well, but as with any soup containing pasta, it will absorb the liquid from the soup and become mushy. If you are making this with freezing in mind, I would cook the orzo separately, adding it to the soup when eaten. I like to use little snack-size zip lock bags to freeze the pasta. Just tape them to the top of the container and add when serving this delicious soup.
Safe storage if not freezing:
I would recommend keeping Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Panera Style in an airtight container in the refrigerator just one day at the most, as the chicken is already cooked. That is another reason that my scaled-down delicious recipe for two servings is so great! This soup only takes 30 minutes to make, so save your freezer space for ice cream! You're welcome.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup ~ Panera Style
- 1 Large pot
For the soup:
- 1 tbs Olive oil
- 1 medium Carrot
- 1 stalk Celery
- 1 small Onion or onion powder
- 2 cloves Garlic or garlic powder
- 1 Bay leaf
- 3 cups Chicken broth - low sodium or chicken stock
- ⅓ cup Orzo pasta uncooked
- 1 Juice of a lemon fresh squeezed
- 1 cup Chicken white or dark meat, diced or shredded
- ½ teaspoon Chicken base
- 1 Zest of a lemon
- 1 cup Baby spinach fresh
- 1 sprig Fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black pepper freshly ground
For the garnish:
- 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese grated
- 4 Lemon slices
- Crusty bread on the side
- To a large pot over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced carrot, celery and onion.
- Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and bay leaf and cook for an additional minute. You do not want the vegetables to caramelize, you are just looking to soften them.
- Over medium-high heat add four cups of broth (or stock) to the pot with the vegetables. Bring to a rolling boil then reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the orzo pasta, the chicken base, and the lemon juice to the pot. Cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Add the diced or shredded chicken. Reduce the heat to low. Add the fresh thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cook for an additional two minutes.
- Add the baby spinach to the pot and stir until the spinach is wilted. Taste the soup then season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve the fresh soup immediately in bowls, garnished with lemon slices and Parmesan cheese, with a slice of crusty French bread on the side.
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.