Lemon Chicken Rice Soup has all the comforting ingredients of traditional chicken and rice soup combined with the bright flavor of lemon making it a favorite. Perfect to take the chill out of a winter's day or for spring chilly day sipping. Only 30 minutes cook time!
If you've had Greek Avgolemono soup before our Lemon Chicken Rice soup will taste familiar. The traditional Greek style soup includes egg yolks to create a creamy traditional Avgolemono soup and lots more rice.
We love the lemon flavor but wanted a lighter recipe for soup season with similar lemony chicken flavor. We passed on the tempered eggs and loaded up on vegetables to develop the flavor of a homemade chicken broth.
The lean tender chicken, fresh lemon juice and just a bit of cooked rice combine for a delicious soup for cold weather. The lemony broth perks up the taste buds and warms the insides without being heavy.
What makes this skinny?
- Loads of low calorie nutritious vegetables
- Using lean boneless skinless chicken breast
- Just enough rice to give familiar texture without loading on the starchy calories
- No olive oil used for sautéing (or butter)
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Boneless skinless chicken breasts. You'll use 1 pound. The chicken cooks in the soup giving more flavor to the soup, then is shredded and added back in.
Carrots, celery and onion. This is the holy trinity of soup bases. The onion will be chopped. The celery and carrots can be chopped or sliced depending on your preference.
Seasoning. Bay leaves, kosher salt, freshly grated black pepper and chopped Italian parsley which is added at the end.
Low Sodium chicken stock. Chicken stock or chicken broth can be used. You'll need 8 cups so 2 1-quart containers. We prefer using low-sodium then salting 'to taste' so you are controlling the salt amount.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice. Squeezing the lemons yourself really does make a difference in the flavor. You'll use two lemons. We use a hand held juicer which is great at extracting most of the juice from the citrus fruits easily.
Cooked long grain white rice. It's important to use cooked rice and this is a great way to use up leftover rice. We used long grain enriched white rice though brown rice can also be used (it's just a few more calories than white rice).
Add other fresh herbs. Fresh dill, basil, rosemary, thyme are all great choices to add more flavor to the soup base.
Why use cooked rice?
Cooked rice will not absorb the soup's liquid in the way uncooked rice does and it will hold it's shape and texture.
- Using uncooked rice makes estimating the needed liquid level difficult.
- After cooking the rice will continue to absorb the liquid in the soup often creating a porridge type consistency in the soup, especially if storing leftovers.
- The rice will also continue to become mushy as the soup is stored.
How to make Lemon Chicken Rice Soup
STEP 1. Combine ingredients in pot
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven combine the chicken breasts, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water (photos 1-3).
STEP 2. Simmer
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to simmering, cover and cook 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (photo 4).
STEP 3. Shred chicken
Remove the chicken and shred using a standing mixer with paddle attachment OR two forks to manually shred (photo 5). Add back to the soup pot (photo 6).
Chicken shredding trick!
- Place the cooked chicken in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Run the mixer on low speed to quickly shred the chicken.
- Go slow so the chicken doesn't over shred
- You'll have effortless, mess-free shredded chicken in about 1 minutes!
STEP 4. Finish soup
Add the lemon juice, parsley and rice (photo 6). Allow to warm through for 5 minutes before serving.
Remove bay leaves, add more salt and pepper as needed before serving (photo 7).
Sauté the vegetables. We added the vegetables directly to the soup mix but they can be sauteed first. To keep calories low, spray the soup pot or Dutch oven with some olive oil spray and sauté over medium-high heat until they begin to soften (about 5-7 minutes). Proceed with the recipe as written.
Spice it up! I love adding sliced fresh jalapeno peppers to chicken soup in the winter. It gives it a bit of spice that always is warming and opens up stuffy noses. Hot peppers are believed to rev up your metabolism too.
Faster prep tip. If you like your soup vegetables chopped you can add the onion, celery and carrots to a mini chopper or food processer to quickly chop them.
Love lemony flavor? Swap in lemon pepper instead of black pepper. The soup is lemony after adding the lemon juice so taste before adding it.
Use a different type of rice. Most rice has a similar calorie value per cup (cooked) so swap in brown rice, wild rice or any leftover rice you have.
How to store
Spoon the soup into an airtight container or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can. Cooking the chicken with the other ingredients gives both more flavor. But if you prefer to use leftover or store-bought rotisserie chicken add 3 cups shredded chicken. Stir the chicken in at the end with the lemon juice so it doesn't over cook and taste stewed.
Yes. Place it in freezer-safe airtight containers leaving some room on top for expansion and allow it to cool in the refrigerator. Once cooled you can place it in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. I love using this freezer block maker to freeze the soup in bags. It's a mold that forms in the bag and after it's frozen you have easily stackable bags of soup!
Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
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