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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Our favorite chicken soup recipe, ideal for cold and flu season! 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. Recipe also included for homemade chicken stock.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade chicken stock, lemon chicken soup, orzo, rotisserie chicken, short cut chicken soup
Servings: 12


  • 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 and 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

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • 1 rotisserie chicken carcass, including skin and bones

  • Assorted veggies see notes below
  • 1 Garlic bulb, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 - 10 peppercorns
  • Kosher salt, 1- 2 tablespoons to start, more to taste after simmering 1 hour


  • 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, season 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 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • To serve: Add a lemon slice to garnish soup and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

 Homemade Chicken Stock

  • Add chicken carcass to 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot. Add, veggies, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
  • 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 additional 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.


  • 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 and with no added preservatives.
  • Assorted veggies for chicken stock: Celery stalks including celery leaves; carrots; onion pieces, halves, or quarters, including onion skin; parsley with stems, and/or parsnips