This Mediterranean lemon orzo soup is bright and flavorful. It's an easy soup to make that's flavored with the brightness of fresh lemon juice. Top it with cooked shrimp, or add chicken for a take on a chicken noodle soup.
Our next door neighbor used to go on many travels around the world and bring us back something from her trips. She would bring us truffle honey from Italy, a purse from Vietnam, and from one of them, she brought us back some orzo from Greece.
I decided to use it in this soup, and now I've been an orzo fan for years. I make this lemony soup multiple times a month. It's so easy and it's a delicious take on chicken noodle soup.
What is orzo?
Just looking at orzo, you would think it's rice. But it's actually a type of pasta that is rice-shaped.
Orzo pasta is used a lot in Italian and Greek foods. It works so well in soups like this one! It adds body and texture to a delicious soup.
Where to find orzo
In the grocery store, you can usually find orzo alongside the regular pasta. I've found it in bags and in plastic containers. I've found it at my local grocery store, and if you have a Trader Joe's, they carry it too.
- Orzo - Orzo is pasta that is shaped like rice! It plumps up in the soup.
- Lemon - This recipe uses the zest and juice from a lemon. Zest it first, then juice it!
- Carrots - I typically grate the carrots for this soup. As an alternative, you can also slice them and chop them into small pieces. I've done both!
- Olive oil - Regular olive oil works great here.
- Garlic - The garlic adds a nice flavor to the soup. Fresh garlic is so good!
- Onion - I always use a yellow or white onion here, diced into very small pieces.
- Chicken stock - Chicken stock or broth is used in the soup. I typically get cartons from the store, but you can use homemade chicken broth too.
- Dried basil - Dried basil adds a nice flavor to the soup. You can find it in the store in the spice section.
- Shrimp - You can use fresh or frozen shrimp. If using fresh, the shrimp will cook very quickly. If using frozen, they take a bit longer, but keep your eyes on them!
- Salt and Pepper - The holy grails of seasoning.
The lemon orzo soup is delicious topped with shrimp, as shown. You can also top with fresh herbs like some chopped fresh parsley, fresh dill, or oregano.
If serving the soup in the summer, I love a side of peach panzanella.
One of my favorite parts about this orzo soup is how easy it is to customize!
- Leave out the shrimp - Sometimes I will make this without shrimp if I don't have any or am feeling lazy. Or I'll put shrimp in for me, and leave it out for Josh. It's filling either way!
- Swap out the shrimp for cooked chicken - Have some cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken lying around? Make a lemon chicken orzo soup with it!
- Instead of shredding the carrots, just chop them into pieces - When I'm feeling a little lazy, I just chop the carrots up. It's equally as delicious! Just make sure they are all cooked and tender before you serve.
- Add some greens - If you have chopped spinach or kale, you can throw it into the soup for some extra veggies and greens. I love adding baby spinach to mine.
- Spice it up - Love a little spice? Add some red pepper flakes or a touch of cayenne for a hint of spice to your soup.
How to make the lemon orzo soup
To make the lemon orzo soup with shrimp, first prepare your ingredients. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Grate (or finely chop) the carrot and set aside.
Once your ingredients are prepared, take out a dutch oven or large soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add the olive oil.
After about 30 seconds, add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute.
Then add the carrots and cook for an additional two minutes, stirring frequently.
Then add the chicken stock and orzo to the pot.
Cook until the orzo is tender, but still has a slight bite (al dente!), about 10 minutes. This can vary depending on the orzo, so test it by tasting a bit with your spoon to determine if it needs longer.
While the soup is cooking, take out a large skillet and heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook.
As the shrimp starts to turn pink and opaque, flip and cook on the other side for about 1-2 minutes until cooked through. Set aside.
Once soup is done, add the dried basil, lemon zest, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Plate soup and top with shrimp.
Other soup recipes to love:
Lemon Orzo Soup with Shrimp
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 3 carrots grated
- 6 cups chicken broth or stock
- 1 cup orzo
- 16 large shrimp deveined and peeled
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pot. Once oil is hot, add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
- Add the carrot and sauté for another two minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and orzo to the pot. Cook until orzo is tender, with a slight bite, about 10 minutes (but can depend on the orzo).
- While orzo is cooking, prepare the shrimp. In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add shrimp to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, flipping once, until shrimp are cooked through and pink. Set aside.
- Once orzo soup is finished, add the lemon zest and juice. Season with salt, pepper and dried basil.
- Spoon into bowls, and add the cooked shrimp to the soup.
If nutrition info is shown, values are based on an online calculator and are estimates. Please verify using your own data.