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overhead photo of one bowl of pesto chicken orzo soup

Pesto Chicken Orzo Soup


This small-batch soup with chicken, pesto, zucchini, and pasta makes enough for two people with some leftover to reheat the next day for lunch. It’s a quick 30-minute dinner.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper (see note)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 2 pinches of kosher salt
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • Juice of one lemon, divided
  • 1/4 cup pesto (homemade or storebought)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup orzo
  • Sliced fresh basil, for garnish (optional)
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)


  1. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook it in the oil for three to four minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board.
  2. In the same pan, cook the onions and zucchini in the oil for four to five minutes or until they have softened. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Squeeze half of the lemon juice into the pan and, using the spoon, scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the pesto and chicken stock and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, add the orzo, and cook it in the soup for seven minutes, or for a few minutes less than what is listed on the package. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle boil as the pasta cooks.
  4. While the soup simmers, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Once the pasta is cooked through add the chicken back to the soup.
  5. Add the other half of the lemon juice to the soup and simmer it for another couple of minutes, or until the chicken is warmed through. Check for seasoning and add additional salt, if needed. Garnish each serving with sliced fresh basil and parmesan cheese, if using.


  • If you buy a large chicken breast I recommend slicing it in half to create two thin cutlets that will cook faster. Or, you can buy the same amount of chicken tenders and use those instead.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 459
  • Sugar: 10.2g
  • Fat: 28.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.6g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 28.7g

Keywords: pesto chicken orzo soup, chicken soup recipe