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A serving of lemon-turmeric chicken-orzo soup in a blue and white bowl sitting on a wooden tray with hibiscus flowers in the background. The soup is full of baby kale, chicken, carrots, and onions. The turmeric gives the soup a bright yellow color.

Lemon-Turmeric Chicken Orzo Soup

Lemon-Turmeric Chicken Orzo Soup is a bright, delicious soup that's full of nutrients and superfoods. You can make it on the stovetop or in your Instant Pot. 

Course Entree
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken soup, instant pot soup, lemon turmeric soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings 6 –8

Ingredients

FOR THE STOCK (see Recipe Note #1)

  • 1 rotisserie chicken carcass (see Recipe Note #2)
  • 1 yellow or white onion quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 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
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp herbs de Provence (or your favorite dried herb mix)
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 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)

Instructions

FOR THE STOCK

  1. (If using premade 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).  

  2. 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

  1. Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot (or the insert of an Instant Pot set on Saute).  Saute the onions, celery, and carrots until translucent and softening. 

  2. 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 some white wine and using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot. 

  3. 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). 

  4. 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.

Recipe Notes

  1. 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 favorite high-quality store-bought stock.
  2. 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).  
  3. Mustard greens, spinach, or any kind of kale would also be delicious. Just be aware that spinach takes far less cooking time than kale.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!).

    NOTE: this cooking time is based on my orzo, which has a 9-minute cooking time. If your orzo has a different cooking time, you may need to adjust. Also, check to be sure that the chicken is cooked through and not pink anywhere. Simmering for a few additional minutes should take care of any undercooked pieces (see below).

    Press cancel and then "saute". Let the soup simmer, adding in your greens, until the orzo is cooked to your liking and the greens are just softened. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.