This Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Turmeric recipe is full of nutrients and flavor. Easy to make on the stove top or Instant Pot.
This winter has been brutal. Right now, it is a balmy 0º F outside.
As a result, we have consumed our own weight—many times over—in soup.
After all, there's nothing like a steaming bowl of soup to make you feel better about life.
Especially if that soup is also packed with wholesome ingredients and superfoods!
Ingredients for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Turmeric
If I have time and energy, I use a rich, flavorful homemade chicken stock.
I often have stock on-hand in the freezer (Simple Pressure-Cooker Chicken Stock), but I have also made this entire soup (from making the broth to the finished soup) on the same day.
If I don't have containers of my stock available and no time to make it, I use good-quality store-bought stock.
First, obviously, is the turmeric.
Turmeric is all rage lately, widely recognized as a superfood.
It contains curcumin, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidative effects.
Any time we can get this into our diet, it's a good thing. Besides, it gives the soup a gorgeous color.
In addition to the turmeric, I add a mix of dried herbs that contains savory and thyme (Herbs de Provence is a good choice).
Just before serving, I garnish with some chopped fresh parsley.
I'm a raving, rah-rah fan of Costco rotisserie chickens or rotisserie chickens in general.
They're VERY economical: in fact, they are typically far cheaper than buying a raw chicken and roasting it yourself.
I simply pull the meat from these chickens, chop it up, and refrigerate until I'm ready to use it.
I use every part of the rotisserie chicken, right down to the carcass for making the stock (see below).
Even the gelatin in the bottom of the container goes in the stock. That stuff is absolute GOLD for flavor.
It's mostly rendered collagen, which is also packed with nutritive value AND dramatically enhances the flavor of any stock.
Orzo—called risoni in Italy—is one of my favorite pasta shapes for soup.
Ditalini and acini de pepe are also favorites.
The pasta cooks right in the broth, so it soaks up some of the delicious flavor.
The Veggies and greens
The base of this soup uses carrots, onions, and celery.
For the greens, my favorite is baby kale.
Spinach, mustard greens, or any other type of kale would also be delicious.
Adjust the amount of time that you simmer your greens so that they're just tender when serving.
For spinach, Phil and I simply add torn, stemmed leaves to our individual bowls then pour the hot soup over the top.
In a matter of a minute, the spinach wilts perfectly.
Keeping the spinach separate from the soup can be a great way to accommodate those picky eaters.
How to make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Turmeric
I have made this on both the stove top and Instant Pot.
Making the chicken stock
I have become a master of homemade stocks.
My secret weapon is the slow-cooker or the Instant Pot (you can use either the slow-cook or the pressure cook function, depending on how quickly you need it).
The process I'm about to explain will produce an amazing stock that you can use for this soup or any other recipes chicken stock is required.
I use the carcass of a roast/rotisserie chicken, aromatics, and herbs. These slow-cook together for 24-36 hours or pressure cook in less than 2 hours. (Image #1 below)
After the stock has cooked, I fish the solids out with a skimmer and discard.
Then, I ladle the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator (see image #2 below).
Finally, I pour the broth into storage containers (in #3 below, you can see the light-colored fat on top of the stock).
If I'm planning to freeze the stock (it keeps for up to 6 months), I leave an inch at the top to allow the stock to expand in the freezer (see #4 below).
This is what some of that stock-making process looks like:
NOTE: when I make this soup on the stovetop, I start with ready-made chicken stock on-hand.
Building the soup
First, saute the onions, celery, and carrots until translucent and softened. (If using the Instant Pot, use the saute function on the highest setting)
Next, add the rosemary, dried herbs, garlic and saute an additional minute.
Add the turmeric and saute one more minute.
Then, deglaze by adding the white wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot.
Add in the broth, chopped chicken, and orzo. Bring to a simmer (for Instant Pot, push the "cancel" button, then the saute button until the lowest setting is selected)
When the orzo is almost done (check after 7–8 minutes), add in the greens and simmer until just softened. Then, stir in the lemon juice.
Continue simmering until the orzo is done to your liking, about 9-12 minutes in total.
Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and enjoy!
Make ahead strategies for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Turmeric
You can cube the cooked chicken, slice and dice the veggies, and chop the fresh herbs in advance.
I like to store everything together to make a "meal kit."
First, I put the cubed chicken in one half of a large, plastic container. I slice and dice my mirepoix (celery, onion, and carrot).
I put the lemon zest, minced garlic, and chopped rosemary in a small ramekin and fit it in with the mirepoix.
After lidding the container with the mirepoix and ramekin, I set it into the larger container with the chicken.
This is an amazing soup that can come together in 30 minutes if you have stock already available, or under three hours if you make the stock from scratch.
Give it a try and drop me a note to let me know how it turned out!
It's a bright, delicious recipe that I hope you'll love!
P.S. You might want to check out these other amazing soup recipes: Simple Pressure-Cooker Chicken Stock, Pressure-Cooker Pho Ga (Chicken Pho), Turkey Wild Rice Soup, Sausage Kale and Potato Soup, and Easy Pasta e Fagioli Soup. Or, check out my Soups and Stews page!
- #CookBlogShare, a great food blogger recipe-share hosted this week at Recipes Made Easy.
- Delicious Dishes Recipe Party (coming soon!), a weekly link party where bloggers share their most delicious recipes and check out other bloggers’ amazing recipes, hosted by Walking on Sunshine.
FOR THE STOCK (see Recipe Note #1)
- 1 rotisserie chicken carcass (see Recipe Note #2)
- 1 yellow or white onion, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 rosemary sprig (or use thyme or a combination)
FOR THE SOUP
- 2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 cup onions, diced (white or yellow)
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
- ½ tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp herbs de Provence (or your favorite dried herb mix)
- ½ cup orzo
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- ¼ cup white wine
- 8 cups chicken stock
- ½ tsp coarse salt (or to taste)
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped into cubes
- 4 cups baby kale, chopped (remove any large stems; see Recipe Note #2)
- flat leaf parsley, chopped (for serving; optional)
FOR THE STOCK
- (If using pre-made or store-bought stock, skip to "FOR THE SOUP.") Add the chicken carcass to the insert of a slow-cooker or Instant Pot with onion, garlic cloves, bay leaf, rosemary, peppercorns. Add very hot water, 2 cups at a time, to the container in which the chicken was packaged to rinse any drippings. Add the water and drippings to the cooker. Repeat four times, for a total of 8 cups. Add one additional cup of water. Cook at least 8 hours (and up to 24) in the slow-cooker on low. FOR THE INSTANT POT: close the lid and seal the valve. Press the "Pressure Cook" button enough times so that "More" is selected. Press the plus sign until the cooker's display shows 60 minutes. After a brief pause, The Instant Pot will now pressurize for around 20 minutes before the clock begins to count down. When the cook time is complete, allow the pressure cooker to depressurize naturally (don't release the valve; this can take another 20 or so minutes).
- Use a skimmer to remove the large solids from the stock; discard. Ladle the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. Pour the degreased stock from the fat separator into a storage container (the fat can be seen in a lighter layer on top of the stock; or see Recipe Note #4). The finished stock in storage containers. If you plan to freeze the broth, leave about an inch of space between the top of the stock and the lid (the stock will expand when it freezes). You can freeze the stock up to 6 months. Note: you should get about 8 cups of stock: if you come up short, you can make up the difference with store-bought stock or water.
FOR THE SOUP
- Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot (or the insert of an Instant Pot set on the highest saute setting). Saute the onions, celery, and carrots until translucent and softening.
- Add the rosemary, dried herbs, and garlic. Saute for an additional minute Add in the turmeric and saute for one minute. Deglaze the pot by adding the white wine and using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add in the stock, lemon zest, and the orzo. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken. Continue simmering until the orzo is done to your liking (9–12 minutes, depending on the package directions).
- While the soup simmers, chop the baby kale (or other greens), removing any large stems. Add the kale to the simmering soup; simmer until just softened. Mix in the lemon juice. Serve topped with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
- Roasted chicken (or turkey) carcasses are amazing for making stock. If you don't have one on hand, you can also use your previously made, frozen stock OR your favorite high-quality store-bought stock.
- If you have the container for the chicken, rinse it several times with hot water and add to the slow-cooker or Instant Pot (this will make sure that any solidified collagen in the container is added to the stock).
- Mustard greens, spinach, or any kind of kale would also be delicious. Just be aware that spinach takes far less cooking time than kale.
- Alternatively, cool the stock by placing the insert of the slow-cooker or Instant-Pot in a sink filled part-way with cold water for 20 minutes. Transfer to storage containers and refrigerate. When the stock is chilled, any fat will congeal at the top of the container. Simply scrape off the fat layer: your stock is now virtually fat-free and can be used immediately or frozen.
- If you are starting with raw chicken, cut it into small cubes and saute with the vegetables. Then, if you're making the soup in the instant pot, use the pressure cooker function. After deglazing with wine and adding in the zest, herbs, stock, and orzo, press "cancel" (to turn off the saute function). Then, close the lid of the Instant Pot and seal the valve. Set the instant pot on "pressure cook" mode at high pressure for 6 minutes. Then, carefully do a quick pressure release (protect your hands!).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 bowl (about 2 cups)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 501Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 925mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 42g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!