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two white bowls of lemon chicken orzo soup with spoons in them and crusty bread on the side

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup (For Crockpot or Instant Pot!)

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: Varies
  • Total Time: 12 minute
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Low Fat

Description

Spring comes to mind when we make this soup, because it’s light, fresh, and has pops of green. The fresh lemon juice brings a citrusy dimension that takes the flavor beyond your typical Chicken Noodle Soup. We’ll show you how to make it in either the crockpot or Instant Pot.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 cups diced carrots 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning 
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 pound medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta (Gluten-free option: sub Great Northern beans or instant cooking rice)
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • Optional: Shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish (Note: This is not dairy-free.)

Instructions

Crockpot Version

Make It Now:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and carrots until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while they cook. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning during the last 30-60 seconds. (Freezing instructions begin here.
  2. Transfer veggie mixture to the slow cooker. Place the chicken on top and season on all sides with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Then, stir in the broth. 
  3. Cover and cook on low for 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours or until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.) Remove the chicken to a cutting board and set aside. 
  4. Turn the heat setting to high. Stir in the orzo, cover quickly, and cook for another 20-30 minutes, just until al dente. (Do not overcook.) Meanwhile, shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  5. When orzo is done, remove the bay leaves and stir in the chicken, spinach, and fresh lemon juice (squeeze over a strainer or your hand to avoid getting seeds in soup). Taste and season with salt and pepper, according to preference.
  6. Serve immediately and top with (optional) shredded Parmesan, if desired.

Freeze It For Later: Follow Step 1. Season the chicken on all sides with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the cooked and cooled veggie mixture, seasoned chicken, and broth to a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. 

Prepare From Frozen: Note: You will need the orzo, spinach, lemon juice, and (optional) Parmesan cheese on hand to prepare this meal. Thaw. Pour the soup into the slow cooker and follow Steps 3-6.

Instant Pot Version

Make It Now: 

  1. Turn on Saute function and heat the oil. Saute the onion and carrots until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while they cook. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning during the last 30- 60 seconds. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Stir in the broth. Season the chicken on both sides with ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper and add to the pot. 
  3. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 6 minutes at high pressure and quick release the pressure when done. (Check to make sure the chicken is done, which means no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.) Remove the chicken to a wooden cutting board and set aside.
  4. Turn on the Saute function. Stir in the orzo and cook it a few minutes less than the package directions call for, just until al dente. (Do not overcook or the pasta and the veggies will get mushy.) Meanwhile, shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  5. When orzo is done, press Cancel. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the chicken, spinach, and fresh lemon juice (squeeze over a strainer or your hand to avoid getting seeds in soup). Taste and season with salt and pepper, according to preference.
  6. Serve immediately and top with shredded Parmesan, if desired.

Freeze For Later: Follow Step 1. Season the chicken on all sides with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the cooked and cooled veggie mixture, seasoned chicken, and broth to a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Arrange the chicken breasts side-by-side instead of stacked, if possible. Seal and freeze. Tip: Set the freezer bag in a bowl in the freezer for a few hours to help it freeze in the shape of the pressure cooker.

 

Prepare From Frozen: Note: You will need the orzo, spinach, lemon juice, and (optional) Parmesan cheese on hand to prepare this meal. Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Follow Steps 2-5, except cook for 17-22 minutes at high pressure with a quick release.