Chicken & Orzo (or Rice) Soup with Lime & Cilantro

This recipe is adapted from a Yucatan style Chicken & Orzo soup that my kids and I love.  I sometimes substitute rice for the orzo, when I’m looking for a little “lighter” flavor, and the rice goes nicely with the lime and cilantro.  I also use a whole chicken, roasted, rather than boiling chicken breasts—which is what the Yucatan recipe calls for.

Personally, I love using homemade chicken stock, when I have some in the freezer.  I boil a chicken carcass for a day… sometimes two.  This provides a very nutritious broth that has a full, delicious flavor.  (When possible, I just keep my freezer stocked!)  And recently, I’ve begun using fat-free Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.  A perfect, and much healthier alternative.

This soup is a wonderful “Summer Soup” with the fresh lime flavor and light, nutrient-rich ingredients.  I hope you enjoy it!


(If you don’t have time to roast your own chicken, one of the organic roasters from Whole Foods, classic seasoning, works wonderfully)

For Chicken

1 whole chicken fryer (about 3.5-4 lbs)

¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic

¼ lemon wedge, cut from peel & pith (I’ve never used a fresh lime in place of the lemon but wonder if it might work better with this recipe)

2 tsp. spice blend (I love Savory’s “Capitol Hill Seasoning” which includes shallots, salt, pepper, dill, parsley & chives but anything similar will do!)

Salt & Pepper

For Soup

3 quarts chicken stock (homemade makes a huge difference in flavor and provides a lot more nutrients!)

¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¾ Vidalia or other sweet, white onion, thinly sliced

3-4 garlic cloves

½-1 jalapeño (depending on taste), minced

¼ Cup fresh lime juice (about the equivalent of the juice of one large lime—maybe more!)

1 ½ Cups uncooked orzo (or long grain brown rice if you’re substituting)

About 15-20 fresh cherry tomatoes, cut into fourths

A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

A bunch of fresh chives, chopped

Salt & Pepper to taste

Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt

Fresh Salsa

Fresh Avocado, diced


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together olive oil, lemon wedge, garlic, spices, salt & pepper.

Place whole chicken, breast down, onto a “roasting stand,” and place in a roasting pan (or any pan that has fairly deep sides—about 2 inches deep).  If you don’t have a roasting stand, just roast the chicken breast down in a roaster.

Peel away skin, making “pockets” between the skin and the meat of the chicken.

Marinade chicken, making sure to get plenty of marinade into the pockets of skin so that the chicken becomes as moist and flavorful as possible!

Either tie or tuck legs close into the body so they don’t get too dark in the oven.

Roast for approximately 1-1.5 hours at 350 degrees.  (Chicken can be removed from oven before it’s completely done, as it will continue to cook in the soup.)  When you remove the chicken from the oven, let it cool to the point that you can pull all the meat off the bones, and shred it.  Discard the skin and bones (or use to make more chicken stock!)

Cook Orzo (or rice) according to instructions.  (If rice is a bit al dente, it will also continue to cook when added to the soup.)

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until onion begins to brown, about 4 minutes.

(If you’re using a whole chicken that you purchased, simply peal away the majority of the skin and shred into bite-sized pieces with your hands or with two forks.  Don’t “over-shread!”)

Add chicken; sauté 1 minute. Add broth, lime juice, and tomato.

Simmer until you’re certain that the chicken is cooked through and the rice is perfectly cooked.

Season soup with salt and pepper and add lime juice if needed.

Ladle into bowls & top with a dollop each of yogurt (or sour cream) and salsa, and garnish with cilantro & chives.  Serve with chopped avocado (or add them to the soup!)



For the Love of Your Life!