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Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and food styling by Melissa Hamilton


Once, years back, I had to test a slew of soup recipes, so I threw a soup party with huge pots bubbling away on the stove and small serving cups so everyone could to taste each one. This Greek-style soup is the one  nobody could stop talking about. My guests all fell in love with its thyme-scented, thick, lemony broth, delicate orzo (a rice-shaped pasta), and meaty chunks of chicken. It’s no wonder it is one of my most popular recipes to this day. 



4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, preferably whole-wheat
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste



Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Makes 4 servings
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups


Per serving: Calories 280; Total Fat 10g (Mono Fat 6g, Poly Fat 1g, Sat Fat 2g); Protein 26g; Carb 22g; Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 139mg; Sodium 291mg

Excellent Source of: niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C

Good Source of: copper, folate, iodine, iron, magnesium, molybdenum, pantothenic acid, thiamin, vitamin B12, vitamin K, zinc

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