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Apr 20, 2018

Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Vegetables

This Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Vegetables is hearty and filling, and the broth, made from a chopped up whole chicken, takes less than an hour. 

Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Vegetables

In fact, this Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Vegetables tastes like it has been simmering for several hours.

To make this homemade chicken stock, you cut up a whole chicken into pieces, set aside the breasts, and then chop the rest of the chicken into two inch pieces with a cleaver. Next you brown the chicken pieces in a pot to develop flavor before simmering them in water. You end up with an amazing broth in less than an hour.

If you're nervous (like I was) about cutting up the chicken pieces while holding them with your hand, just use some tongs to hold the chicken pieces while hacking away with your cleaver.

Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Vegetables

Instead of a whole chicken, you could use chicken parts, but then you miss out on the chicken back, which adds so much flavor to the broth, and is a piece that you cannot buy otherwise. Plus, by cutting up a whole chicken yourself, you save a little bit of money.

I like to make the broth the day before making the soup. First, I like the convenience, and second, it is so much easier to skim the fat off of chilled stock/broth.

Of course, if you want to save even more time, you can use store bought chicken stock or broth. Just be sure to adjust the salt.

This month, the theme for #SoupSaturdaySwappers is Spring Has Sprung, hosted by Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Our instructions were "let's create and share some soups that feature the darlings of Spring. Think fennel, peas, and whatever tickles your fancy." After the recipe, check out the rest of the "spring has sprung" soups. 

To represent spring, this soup includes leeks, asparagus, and peas. There's also celery, carrots, thyme, and lots of tarragon added at the end. This soup is winter to spring comfort food.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Vegetables


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds), breast removed and split, and the rest cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 brown or sweet onion, roughly diced
  • 2 quarts boiling water
  • Salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup 1/4 inch thick carrot slices
  • 1 medium leek, quartered lengthwise, then sliced thinly crosswise, and then rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmery. Sauté the chicken breast halves, skin side down, for about 3 minutes, turn them over, and sauté them for about 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. 
  2. Add the chopped onions to the pan, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until tender. Transfer the onions to a plate or medium bowl and set aside. 
  3. Sauté half of the chopped chicken pieces for about 5 minutes, and transfer them to the same plate/bowl with the onions. Sauté the rest of the chicken pieces for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and the already sautéed chicken pieces back into the pan (but not the breasts). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. In the meantime, bring the 2 quarts of water to a boil in a separate pan. 
  4. Increase the heat to high, add the boiling water, the chicken breasts, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the bay leaves. Bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, until the breasts are cooked. 
  5. Remove the breasts and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and bones, and shred the meat with with your fingers or two forks, into bite sized pieces. 
  6. Strain and reserve the broth and discard all of the solids. At this point, you can refrigerate the broth to use the next day. 
  7. Skim the fat from the broth and reserve two tablespoons. 
  8. In the Dutch oven, heat the reserved chicken fat over medium high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and leeks. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, the broth, and the shredded chicken breasts. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the carrots are just tender. Add the orzo, asparagus, and peas, and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then add the tarragon. 

Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Vegetables

Would you like to comment?

  1. It would be very helpful to see a video of you, hacker in one hand, bird in the other...

    methinks you should consider that for a post in the future. Near, very near future...

    all jokes aside, great soup!!!!

    1. I think this may be my first food video!! I kept thinking "the bones in my fingers are not as thick as the bones in these chicken legs!"

  2. Your soup is packed with wonderful notes of spring! Asparagus is my favorite part!

  3. I know we would love this soup in our household. It is chock full of all our favorite things.

  4. I love Orzo pasta and am soon going to try this delicious soup.

  5. What a yummy looking bowl of comfort!!! Love all those veggies! Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen

  6. This looks SO fantastic. I can't wait to try it, Karen. Thanks for joining me.


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