Chicken Orzo Soup With Pesto 4.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky/The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Jul 16, 2019

Who’s eating chicken soup, even in hot weather? You are, when it’s nice and light like this one-pot version.

Serve with cornbread.

Make Ahead: For best flavor and texture, leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably with basil and garlic (may substitute 2 medium tomatoes, hulled, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic or the same size can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup dried whole-wheat orzo pasta (may substitute regular orzo)
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, or half of each kind
  • 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons basil pesto, for serving (store-bought or homemade; see related recipe)

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Trim/discard excess fat from the chicken, then cut the meat into bite-size chunks, placing them in a large saucepan as you go.

Add the broth, tomatoes and their juices and the orzo; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring a few times.

Meanwhile, rinse the zucchini or squash and trim/discard the ends. Cut into 1/2-inch dice, or coarsely chop, to yield 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

Grate 1 teaspoon of zest from the lemon (about half a lemon's worth) directly into the pot, then cut the fruit in half and squeeze in 1 tablespoon of its juice. Stir in the zucchini and/or yellow squash and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. The chicken should be cooked through.

Taste, and season lightly with salt and pepper if you are using the basil-and-garlic-flavored tomatoes; season with about 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper if you are using fresh or no-salt-added tomatoes.

Divide among individual bowls; top each portion with the pesto (to taste). Cut the remaining lemon into wedges, for serving.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Better Homes and Gardens Quick Homemade: Fast, Fresh Meals in 30 Minutes” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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