If you’re a fan of classic chicken noodle soup, you’re sure to love its zesty cousin, Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup! It has all the same familiar and comforting flavors, plus some extra pizzazz from fresh lemon and herbs. A drizzle of tahini gives it a creamy and luscious texture that’ll have you going back for seconds — or thirds!
Inspired by lemon chicken orzo soup, this plant-based version is just as satisfying, flavorful, and veggie-packed. This is one of my go-to soup recipes all year round! It comes together quickly in one pot, and always leaves me feeling super nourished. Plus, the leftovers are great to enjoy for lunch the next day. I hope this recipe brings you as much joy as it has for us!
Ingredients for Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup
- Aromatics: These include onion, carrot, celery, and plenty of fresh garlic.
- Good olive oil: My favorite oil, both to sauté the vegetables and also to drizzle on top of the soup.
- Chickpeas: This soup is traditionally made with chicken, but we’re going veg-friendly with chickpeas! Chickpeas provide a good source of both protein and fiber.
- Orzo: A key ingredient that makes this soup hearty and comforting.
- Vegetable broth: For extra savory flavor, use a vegan chicken-style broth. Better Than Bouillon and Edward & Sons make two of my favorites.
- Tahini: Stirred in at the end, this makes the soup thick and creamy. Use a good brand that’s nice and runny! My absolute go-to is from Soom. If you don’t have tahini in your pantry, you can skip it; the soup will be just as tasty, but the texture will be a little less luscious.
- Lemon juice: This adds a lovely brightness and zip to the soup.
- Baby kale or spinach: A handful of greens adds color and extra nutrition to the soup.
- Herbs: I cook the soup with plenty of dried oregano, and then add in chopped fresh dill or parsley at the very end. Sub dried herbs in a pinch, or another of your favorite fresh herbs like basil, rosemary or thyme.
- Salt & black pepper. To taste. Depending on the sodium content of your broth, you may need more or less.
How to Make Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup
- Sauté the aromatics. Sauté onion over medium heat until translucent, then add celery, carrot and garlic and sauté for another minute or so.
- Add the chickpeas, orzo, & broth. Add the broth and bring it up to a boil. Add in chickpeas, uncooked orzo, dried oregano, and a bay leaf. Simmer until the orzo is almost cooked. We still need to cook our greens, so you want your orzo to be even less than al dente at this point to make sure it doesn’t get overcooked.
- Stir in the greens. Stir in the fresh baby kale or spinach and let it simmer for just a few minutes to soften. Adding it at the end keeps it bright green and vibrant. Kale is a bit heartier than spinach, so give it a few extra minutes. Spinach is more delicate, so it only needs about a minute to cook.
- Add the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and chopped herbs just before serving in order to help preserve the brightness of the lemon flavor. It will also keep the herbs a nice vibrant color. If they cook for too long, it dulls the flavor/color.
- Optional: Add tahini. Whisk together the tahini with a little bit of water until the tahini is fluffy and drizzles easily. This creates a beautiful sauce that thickens the soup. If you don’t have tahini in your pantry, you can skip this step and the soup will still be delicious, just a little less creamy.
- Dig in!
Sarah’s Recipe Notes
- Fresh is best! Fresh lemon juice makes a world of difference in this soup. Don’t use bottled lemon juice if you can avoid it.
- Use your favorite herbs. Not a fan of dill or parsley? Mix it up with your favorites instead. Fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme are delicious!
- Boost the umami. A chicken-style vegetable broth goes a long way when it comes to building an ultra-savory soup. Better Than Bouillon and Edward & Sons both make a good vegan chick’n bouillon.
- Spice it up. We’re big fans of spice in our home! When I make this soup, I always add a spoonful of Calabrian chili paste in while sautéing the aromatics. It packs a punch!
Substitutions & Variations
- Chickpeas: Not a fan of chickpeas? White beans (such as cannellini or Great Northern) are a great alternative in this soup.
- Vegan chicken: If you’re craving something more similar to a classic Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, try substituting in a plant-based chicken substitute. Daring makes my absolute favorite to use in soups (the texture is spot on). For a more budget-friendly alternative, try using soy curls! Simply rehydrate them in boiling water prior to adding them to the soup.
- Pasta: Other small shapes will work in this recipe, such as acini de pepe, stelline, or Israeli couscous. You can even use a whole wheat orzo if you’re into that kind of thing.
- Gluten-free: You can substitute long-grain white rice for the pasta. You made need to add a few extra minutes to the cook time for the rice to get tender, but the soup tastes absolutely delicious this way too!
Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup is quite a satisfying standalone dish, but you can never go wrong with some crusty bread on the side for dipping!
I love to give my bowl of soup a nice drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. I’m obsessed with the Graza “Drizzle” Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. The robust olive oil flavor truly complements the brightness of the lemon juice so well.
A little sprinkle of vegan parmesan can be quite tasty as well!
Storage & Reheating
Like many soups and stews, this Chickpea Orzo Soup tastes delicious as leftovers.
- Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The orzo will absorb some of the broth as it sits, so it may be a little on the soft side when you enjoy the leftovers.
- Freezer: This soup can be frozen for 2-3 months. Make sure to cool the soup completely before freezing. Use freezer-safe containers and leave some extra space to accommodate for expansion. You can let it thaw out in the refrigerator the night before you plan to enjoy leftovers.
- Reheating: Simply microwave the soup, or heat it on the stove in a small pot over medium-high heat. Make sure to stir regularly. The leftover orzo will have soaked up some of the broth, so you can add an extra splash of water while reheating it, if you’d like to thin out the consistency again.
More Cozy Vegan Soups
Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste (optional, for spice)
- 1 small white or yellow onion diced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill or parsley finely chopped
- 1/4 cup lemon juice from about 2 medium lemons
- 1 cup baby kale or spinach or about one large handful
Optional, to thicken
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup cold water
- In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add onions and celery. (If you want to add spice, add Calabrian chili paste now.) Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add in carrots and garlic and sauté for an additional minute, until very fragrant.
- Add in vegetable broth, chickpeas, orzo, dried oregano, and bay leaf. Occasionally stir as you bring this mixture up to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until orzo is just slightly undercooked (a little less cooked than al dente). Then stir in your greens and allow to simmer for another 1-3 minutes, until wilted. (Spinach will require less time than heartier green like kale.)
- Stir in the fresh herbs (parsley and/or dill), along with the lemon juice.
- Optionally, for a creamier soup, whisk together tahini with water in a small bowl until the tahini is very fluffy and pourable. Stir this into the soup and allow it to simmer for another minute.
- The soup is ready to enjoy! I love to top it with a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil.