8 ounces orzo pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 carrots, chopped, or more to taste
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
3 (32 ounce) cartons fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
8 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 (8 ounce) package baby spinach leaves
1 lemon, sliced for garnish (optional)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- In a large pot, bring to a boil lightly salted water. Cook orzo in the boiling water for about 5 minutes until partially cooked through but not yet soft; drain and rinse with cold water until cooled completely
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir carrots, celery and onion in hot oil until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes clear, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, cook and stir until fragrant for about 1 more minute. Season mixture with thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf. Continue cooking for another 30 seconds before pouring chicken broth into the pot.
- Bring the broth to a boil. Slightly cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.
- Stir orzo, lemon juice and lemon zest into the broth and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken and orzo are heated through, about 5 minutes. Add baby spinach; cook until the spinach wilts and the orzo are tender for about another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Serve the soup into bowls; garnish with lemon slices and Parmesan cheese.