Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

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The Panera lemon chicken orzo soup is one of my favorites on their menu. Since I haven't been able to go to the States to enjoy it in a long time, I decided to make my own version! This Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is easy, delicious, and will surely be a family favorite during the colder months!

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Panera Bread is one of my favorite places to go for delicious and mostly healthy food when I am in the United States for work. A particular favorite of mine is this soup. It is hearty and filling. The chicken adds so much flavor, and the lemony broth make this the perfect comforting meal. Pairing this with some crusty bread makes it a wonderful and comforting meal on the road! A great bowl of soup tastes almost as close to a home cooked meal as I can get when I am travelling.

Since I haven't been travelling for work at all for the past two years, I have not been to the United States to get my Panera fix! So to make up for this, I created my own copycat recipe of this flavorful soup that I would argue tastes even better than the original store bought variety!

Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in bowls
Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

What is Panera Bread?

For those who do not know, Panera Bread is an American bakery café chain that serves fast-casual food. Almost all of its locations are within the United States, with a couple of locations in Canada. Sadly, none in Canada are close to me! Some of their offerings have cult followings, such as this soup!

This extremely popular Panera lemon chicken orzo soup is the perfect take on a Mediterranean inspired soup with bright lemony flavors and tender chicken.

What Do I Need to Make Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup?

While the full ingredient list is available below, here are some tips to make sure you have the perfect items to make this lemon chicken orzo soup recipe!

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Medium carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Dried bay leaf
  • Low sodium chicken broth
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Three quarters of a cup orzo pasta
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon zest
  • Baby spinach
  • Lemon slices
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in bowls
Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

How to Prepare Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

While the full recipe instructions are available below, here are some tips to prepare this easy recipe for chicken and lemon orzo soup.

  • This recipe is such an easy way to prepare clean food - it really only has a few steps to it! First, we will prepare our veggies for the soup. Place a large pot over medium heat on the stove. Once the pot is hot, add your olive oil, diced carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Stir occasionally as the veggies heat, making sure that the onions do not brown. Now, add your thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir together and sauté for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.
  • Now add your bay leaf and chicken stock to the pot. Bring it to a boil. Add your chicken to the pot and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and a meat thermometer reads one hundred sixty five degrees F. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pot and add the orzo to the pot. While the pasta cooks, shred the chicken apart. Once the orzo has been cooked to al dente, add the chicken back to the hot soup and fresh lemon juice.
  • Continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until you have tender orzo pasta. Remove the soup from the heat. Add your fresh lemon zest and baby spinach to wilt. Serve your soup hot topped with lemon slices and some freshly grated parmesan. I especially love having a big slice of crusty French bread with this soup. It ties the whole meal together!

The Best Soup Meal Prep Tips For This Recipe

I would argue that this soup is even better the next day! Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days. You could also hold off on adding the spinach and freeze this soup for future use. Simply add the spinach to the soup once you have heated it up. You will not be able to tell the difference! When reheating your soup, simply add a little cold water to the soup if it is too thick. This will help make the soup thin the soup out, as the orzo can sometimes soak up the broth when being stored for leftovers.

Also, if you are trying to reduce your pasta or refined grains intake, you could swap the orzo for brown rice! This will simply take some extra time, as the orzo would cook in a much shorter time period than the rice.

This is a great weeknight soup recipe that is a twist on the traditional chicken noodle soup. It is comfort food in a bowl and is an extremely satisfying 20-minute dinner!
Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup in bowls
Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Other Soup Recipes You Will Love

Fresh soup is one of my favorite meals at this time of year. If you enjoyed this one, here are some more of my favorite soups that are perfect for sick days or cozy afternoons inside!

Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The Panera lemon chicken orzo soup is one of my favorites on their menu. Since I haven't been able to go to the States to enjoy it in a long time, I decided to make my own version! This Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is easy, delicious, and will surely be a family favorite during the colder months!

Author:
Kirsten

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped (approx. 3 carrots)
  • 1 + 1/2 cup celery, diced (approx. 4 ribs)
  • 2 cups white onion, diced (approx. 1 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 fresh cups baby spinach
  • zest of one lemon
  • Optional toppings: lemon slices, grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Place a large pot over medium heat on the stove. Once the pot is hot, add your olive oil, diced carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Stir occasionally as the veggies heat, making sure that the onions do not brown. Add your thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir together and sauté for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add the bay leaf and chicken stock to the pot. Bring it to a boil. Add your chicken to the pot and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and a meat thermometer reads 165F. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pot and add the orzo. While the pasta cooks, shred the chicken apart. Once the orzo has been cooked to al dente, add the chicken and fresh lemon juice to the hot soup.
  3. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until you have tender orzo pasta. Remove the soup from the heat. Add your fresh lemon zest and baby spinach to wilt. Serve your soup hot topped with lemon slices and some freshly grated parmesan. I especially love having a big slice of crusty French bread with this soup. It ties the whole meal together - enjoy!

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