Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup is comforting and refreshing at the same time as it pairs the familiar warmth of chicken noodle soup with the bright flavors of lemon and fresh herbs. Its perfect to share over lunch with someone you love and is a great menu option for the winter-to-spring transition months.
2mediumleeks, washed and chopped, about 1 cup (only use white and light green part)
3mediumcarrots washed, peeled, and diced into ¼'' pieces
2wholecelery stalks, diced into ¼’’ pieces
½cupwhite wine (optional; substitute with water)
8cupslow-sodium chicken stock or broth (two 32-ounce cartons)
⅔cupwhole wheat orzo pasta, or 1 cup other small pasta, such as Ditalini
⅓cupfreshly-squeezed lemon juice, about 2 lemons
For serving, fresh baby spinach, fresh dill, and Parmesan cheese
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Lightly season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add to the heated pot, and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add a bit more oil to the pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, carrots, and celery. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add Dijon mustard and wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add all of the chicken stock and stir to incorporate. Add back the chicken thighs.
Increase heat to high to bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and shred with a fork, then return to the soup.
While you shred the chicken, return the soup to a low boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the past. Cook for 7-8 minutes until the pasta is just tender. Remove the pot from heat and add lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place a handful of fresh baby spinach into each soup bowl. Ladle the hot soup on top (this should wilt the spinach perfectly). Garnish with freshly chopped dill and shavings of Parmesan cheese.
Store leftover soup in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat soup on stovetop or in the microwave, adding fresh spinach, dill and Parmesan after the soup is reheated.