Favorite Chicken Soup for Cold and Flu Season


I’m sharing our favorite chicken soup recipe, ideal for cold and flu season, Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup! It uses one of my favorite short cuts, a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, fills in for traditional noodles and lemon adds a bright, refreshing note to the chicken broth that delivers on flavor!


We always keep this ‘penicillin-in-a-bowl’ in our freezer, to cure what ails you! This recipe makes a big batch and is satisfying, comforting and ideal to have on hand to pull out when you have the sniffles, fever or feeling under the weather.

My favorite short cut for this soup is using a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Pull the meat on the chicken, shredding or chopping, to add to your soup. My grocery store sells a small 1.75 lb roasted chicken, which is less meat than you think and I use both the white and the dark. Use white meat only or chicken breasts in your soup if that’s what you prefer.

A couple of times of month when I have a leftover rotisserie chicken, I throw the carcass into a pot and use it to make a pot of homemade chicken stock. I also keep vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer so I have them on add to add to the stock pot.

Using a rotisserie chicken carcass is an easy, affordable and flavorful way to make homemade chicken stock! In addition to using something you normally throw away, you take advantage of the added seasoning and flavor from the roasted chicken, while controlling the sodium in the stock.


Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Makes about 12 servings


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

3 – 4 carrots, peeled and diced or 1 (12 oz. bag) frozen sliced carrots, thawed

Kosher salt, pepper to taste

12 cups homemade chicken stock (or 3 – 32 oz. cartons of low sodium chicken stock)

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 (1.75 lb.) rotisserie chicken, shredded or chopped

1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat olive oil and butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat until butter is melted. Add chopped onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add carrots to pot, seasoning veggies with salt and pepper and continue to cook until carrots soften 5 – 7 minutes.

Add chicken stock; bring to a boil. Stir in chicken; reduce heat to simmer. When chicken is warmed through, add orzo to pot, cooking until tender, about 8 – 9 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Printable Recipe


Homemade Chicken Stock

 To 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot add:

1 rotisserie chicken carcass, including skin and bones

Assorted veggies: Celery stalks including celery leaves; carrots; onion pieces, halves, or quarters, including onion skin; parsley with stems, parsnips

Garlic bulb, halved

2 bay leaves

8 – 10 peppercorns

Thyme sprigs

Kosher salt, 1- 2 tablespoons to start, more to taste after simmering 1 hour

Add chicken carcass, veggies, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves to Dutch oven or stock pot. Fill pot with cold water to cover chicken. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, with lid off of pot. Allow stock to simmer 60 – 90 minutes until stock has reduced and flavorful. Taste and add salt as needed towards end of cooking time. Strain solids through colander and allow chicken stock to cool. Skim and remove fat that rises to the top of the cooled stock. Transfer stock to containers and refrigerate. Use chicken stock within 3 days or freeze until ready to use.

Feel free to alter and adjust quantities of veggies and chicken to your preference. The lemon juice addition is a must at the end! I like to make a big pot, parceling it out in 4 cup containers to freeze so it’s available to pull out when we need it. Another shortcut I like to use is frozen crinkle cut carrots, since I’m lazy, hate to peel carrots, and like how pretty the crinkles are. ;) Add a lemon slice to garnish soup and grated Parmesan cheese to serve if desired.

This is also a good snow-day soup!

 Our snow started about 7 am this morning. Hope you’re staying warm & cozy. ♥

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  56 comments for “Favorite Chicken Soup for Cold and Flu Season

  1. Granny Gay:)
    January 17, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Wish I had the ingredients on hand today, but we are frozen down here…ice and 17 degrees this morning…and I shall not venture out to the store. I shall print the recipe for another day…thanks for sharing…

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Granny Gay, Stay warm! ♥

      • Granny Gay
        January 19, 2018 at 10:16 am

        Thanks Mary. We are beginning to thaw out here…Yeah! A warm weekend ahead. Hope you are feeling better.

  2. January 17, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Aren’t you smart to keep a batch in your freezer, the last thing one wants to do when sick is cook! Wish I had some right now, it’s 22, we have 1/2″ of ice on everything and no water….AGHHHH I HATE WINTER!!! Your photos are beautiful Mary,

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:54 am

      Oh no Jenna…no water is problematic! We’re on a well so when we lose power like we did last weekend it is NOT fun. Hope it comes back soon, stay warm ❄️❤️

  3. January 17, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Can’t wait to make this recipe. The lemon sounds intriguing. I like your short cut using frozen carrots! Keep tips like this coming. I’ve been peeling and slicing away and its time consuming.
    We got a tiny smithering (not sure that is a word) of snow during the night. I was hoping for more. The last snow we received was seven years ago. Our schools are closed today because there is ice on the roads.
    Did you get any snow?

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Hi Bonnie, The lemon sounds strange in the chicken soup, but it’s a fresh and wonderful addition. Our snow started about 7am this morning. They were calling for a dusting with maybe an accumulation of an inch. I’d guess we have about 4 inches now and it’s supposed to snow through the afternoon.

  4. Barb Zuleski
    January 17, 2018 at 8:46 am

    We are really excited about making this recipe, thank you.

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Hi, Barb, I hope you enjoy it! It’s a favorite of my hubby’s :)

  5. Joan
    January 17, 2018 at 8:56 am

    I love this recipe. I use rotisserie chickens a lot and can get several meals from one for just myself or one other. I also use the chicken broth from the carcass and do “chicken ice cubes” for my sweet “Honey” Corgi. I keep the ice cubes in the freezer and serve one with her supper. She loves them!!

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:34 am

      What a great idea for your “Honey”

    • January 17, 2018 at 11:06 am

      My girls would love that Joan!They love frozen pumpkin treats. 🐾🐾

  6. Linda Cunningham
    January 17, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Mary, you timing is perfect as usual. The tips you send are time saving and well thought out. Thank you for sharing.

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Thank you Linda, I hope you enjoy it. Stay warm. ♥

  7. Virginia
    January 17, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Headed to the grocery store tomorrow and picking up the ingredients for this wonderful recipe. Thanks so much for your shortcut suggestions which will certainly save so much time. Fortunately we are in Florida, temperatures definitely a little cooler but nothing like our friends and neighbors in North Carolina. Stay warm.

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you Virginia! Florida sounds pretty good right now :)

  8. Jennifer
    January 17, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Soup looks yummy, and I really love the dishes!

  9. January 17, 2018 at 9:12 am

    I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your tables and recipes. I am glad that our comments make your day because so many times your posts “make my day”. Thank you for your continued ability to stay true to great tablescapes and wonderful food.

  10. Roxanne
    January 17, 2018 at 9:16 am

    My sister made this soup for me when I broke my arm and leg, and I can attest it is DELICIOUS! And healing!! We also are convinced potatoes au gratin cure everything and fix that for each other! You’ve convinced me to start making my own stock. Snowing here in Clemson, S.C. too and wish I had a bowl.

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Roxanne, Amen to potatoes au gratin. You and your sister are girls after my own heart :) Stay warm!

  11. January 17, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Amazing…you have the gift of turning a yucky concept dealing with the cold and flu season into a beautiful and uplifting post! Your husband must feel like he’s a king sitting down to a beautiful table and such wonderful food on a regular basis! :)

  12. Rita C.
    January 17, 2018 at 9:45 am

    That’s good medicine right there! I have a similar recipe, and we love it. I usually make mine in the crockpot, and freeze a portion of it when it’s just the two of us. Even easier…I use the grilled chicken breast strips from fridge section and just cut into smaller cubes….

  13. January 17, 2018 at 9:58 am

    I love rotisserie chicken and this post makes me think of my mom. She always boiled her carcass for stock. She could make a chicken go on for ever(depression baby). Love the crinkle cut carrots…gotta go get some. I have a tip from my 30 year old daughter who uses chicken breasts a lot. Roast them on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Then she shreds them by putting in her Kitchenaide mixer with the paddle on it and pulsing it. Super fast and easy and not messy. Note I said mixer not food processor.

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Gail, Thanks for the chicken breast tip!

  14. Cyndi Raines
    January 17, 2018 at 10:04 am

    YUMM! Wish I had a bowl right now, just came in from shoveling the front porch and it’s only 4 degrees. I love homemade soup. I enjoy using the carcass to make stock, it makes me feel like a real cook, ha! I also add to the broth a chicken base/paste, a couple of tablespoons, called “Tone’s” which gives added flavor and no MSG and is gluetin free. I get it at Sams. Like the idea of adding lemon, will do that for sure. Thanks Mary! Stay warm in your nest!♥️

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Cyndi, Your 4 degrees makes our 24 sound downright balmy! You’re getting a workout shoveling your snow! Hope you’re staying safe & warm. ♥

  15. Patrica Parker
    January 17, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Can not wait to get out to get a chicken and make a pot of soup. I am a firm believer in the healing powers of chicken soup. Have to wait for the snow to end first . It is a balmy 32 degrees in Plymouth, MA.

    • January 17, 2018 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Patricia, That IS balmy for your neck of the woods!

  16. Betsy
    January 17, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Meanwhile, in California we’re praying for rain and snow…please send some our way. I actually debated not wearing a sweater today, and that’s just wrong for January! I’m looking forward to our next storm knowing I have a new recipe to try. Enjoy the cold weather, I’ve found it’s a great excuse to have the dog on the bed❄😊

    • January 17, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Hi Betsy, I’d send some rain and snow your way if I could! ❄️💦☔️ It’s been cold enough for two dogs in bed here 🐾🐾😀

  17. Robyn
    January 17, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Looks delicious! I make chicken soup the same way but add baby spinach she. It’s almost ready! Delicious on a cold snowy day!!! Stay warm!

  18. Catherine LUXEREAU
    January 17, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Bonjour, Hum…cela a l’air délicieux ! Je vais traduire et je vais essayer ! Merci Mary

    OOOH la chance de la neige …….Profitez en bien !


  19. Donna C
    January 17, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    I always buy the Progresso Lemon Chicken and Orzo soup. Its my favorite. Yours looks great. I might just try to make it!

  20. January 17, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Mary, what did we do before grocery store rotisserie chicken? It is bone chilling cold here with so many people hospitalized with the flu. This soup seems perfect for whatever ails you. Home-made Chicken stock is much better for any recipe!

  21. Ricki Treleaven
    January 17, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Everyone needs a great chicken soup recipe especially this flu season. Thanks for posting! I love the carrots in this one……

  22. January 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Yum! Looks like a flavorful soup and I love your light green LC pot Mary! The snow pic looks nice, it snowed here today too but just in the morning. Maybe 54 over the weekend??? This weather is crazy:@)

  23. January 17, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    I made chicken noodle soup from a rotisserie chicken for my mom and sister, Mary. I’m glad that we both use that shortcut for homemade soup. I used noodles that were on my mom’s pantry, but the orzo sounds so good. We have had lots of snow here in Ohio, while I’ve been caring for my mom.

    • January 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      Hi Kitty, I bet you will have had your fill of snow when you get back home! Hope your mom is on the road to recovery. I know your TLC and soup are both appreciated ❤️❄️🥣

  24. January 17, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Mary, our favorite thing to eat is a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s club..what a bargain..$5 for a BIG one..we eat dinner off-it the first night..then I pick all the chicken off the carcass and put the meat and the carcass in the fridge..next day I make broth using carcass and veggies..strain the broth, put some in the freezer and use the rest for my soup which is just like your recipe..I always have chicken soup in the freezer..we always serve ours with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese..that’s just the Italian in me!! Stay warm & safe and I hope you are feeling better?? Thanks for sharing!!

    • January 18, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Hi Ellen, That’s how we enjoy our rotisserie chicken and we usually eat the legs while it’s warm as soon as I bring it in the door. :) I don’t have a Sam’s Club membership since I don’t shop in quantity like that but a new Costco is coming to our neck of the woods with construction this spring so I’ll have to get a membership and check them out. stay warm ♥

  25. Paula
    January 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    ~hi Mary~
    Your soup looks wonderful !! I love chicken, and find Costco has the best !
    We are having a mild winter actually here in northern Indiana
    I bet your fur babies do not like this weather !? We had to say good bye to our Boxer Lexy girl three weeks ago, broke our hearts and miss her so very much.
    Be Safe !

    • January 17, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Oh Paula…That breaks my heart. I’m so sorry to hear about your pup. 🐾 A new Costco is coming to town with construction to begin sometime this spring.

      • Paula
        January 18, 2018 at 8:38 pm

        Thank you Mary

  26. Diane D.
    January 18, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Yummy! Can’t wait to try!!

  27. Norma Rolader
    January 18, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Oh my can not wait for all this snow and ice melt to get out and get the ingredientsi

  28. January 18, 2018 at 10:24 am

    That’s look really good!! Thank you for the advice also!

  29. Sue Bingeman
    January 18, 2018 at 11:53 am

    The recipe sounds delicious and the photo of your snow scene is beautiful!! Stay warm!

  30. Debbie
    January 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Sounds Delicious Mary! I made beef bone broth after making our Christmas Standing Rib Roast. It is so good and plus so much less sodium. I like that you are conscious of it as well in your recipes. Sure, salt enhances the flavor of most things….but what it does in terms to our bodies just isn’t good for us. Hard to lower the sodium and keep the taste but it can be done with fresh herbs and using things such as your lemon idea. It’s all a matter of getting use to clean eating and less processed can goods. This sounds so yummy and will be on our table soon! Thanks!

  31. AnnaC
    January 18, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Mary, I’ll give this one a try soon. If you are going to use box or canned broth, simmer the chicken carcass in it for about 15-20 minutes. This really amps up the chicken flavor and gives it a great homemade taste when you are short of time.

  32. January 19, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    I have made two pots of chicken soup! Once in Texas for family and now here at home for my honey who is feeling under the weather!

  33. Kathy
    January 28, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Love your Chicken Soup recipe with the surprise of slice of lemon in the bowl. Chinese lemon chicken is wonderful and it is a nice, refreshing addition for the soup. Thanks for sharing how you do the stock

  34. January 16, 2020 at 10:42 am

    What a lovely sou- recipe for a winter day Mary. We have lots of lemons from two trees. I do love using rotisserie chicken. I do like to use it for quick easy meals. Thank you for sharing

  35. Tracy
    May 8, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Just made this today exactly as recipe stated but added a little poultry seasoning. I give this recipe a 10 – that’s how good it is! Thanks, Mary!!!

    • May 10, 2020 at 11:36 am

      Great addition Tracy! Thanks for letting me know and enjoy ❤️

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