Last updated on October 12th, 2021 at 12:02 pm
This soup has a personality. Garbanzo lemon orzo soup is bright and happy and reminds me of springtime and warmer weather. I think these attributes come from the fresh ingredients, the broth base, acidic lemons, and no cream. You can make this on one of the cold, dark winter days to remind you of springtime, or make it during the spring as a joyful celebration of the season.
I found the original inspiration for this recipe because I had bought more lemons than I needed for a different dish. With extra lemons, I needed to use them before going bad. I could juice them and freeze the juice for later, but I wanted to use them fresh. So I started digging and ended up finding this vegan lemon chickpea orzo soup recipe.
That recipe is amazing in and of itself, but I always like to tinker and change things. For this one especially, felt like I wanted a creamier soup and something a little less broth-based. Without the creaminess, the soup is almost like a little variation on chicken noodle soup. And I tried it with heavy whipping cream. But that made the soup seem to lose its bright, airy qualities.
More internet digging brought me to a traditional Sephardic Jewish cuisine method that could help with this dish. This method found its way into Greek, Arab, Turkish, Balkan, and Italian cooking. By mixing together lemon juice and eggs you make a sauce that can be used to thicken soups and stews. It is most famously known as avgolemono from Greek cuisine.
This method takes a little extra effort. You have to slowly temper the egg-lemon mixture using some of the hot broth. You don’t want scrambled egg soup. But when done correctly you can get a silky smooth creaminess to your soup that doesn’t rely on cream or milk that tends to weigh a soup down. Perfect for this bright broth-based soup.
After whisking together the eggs and lemon juice, ladle out some of the broth that has been cooking on the stove. Slowly (very slowly) start drizzling some of the hot broth into the egg-lemon mixture while constantly whisking. Whisk, whisk, whisk away while drizzling. You’ll repeat again with even more broth. And after, you should have tempered the eggs to warm them up without scrambling them. It’s a similar process to making a lot of different custards.
You’ll want to have this ready just before the orzo pasta has cooked in the broth. Then you can remove the soup from heat and slowly drizzle in the tempered egg mixture while stirring the soup. It will all come together into creamy deliciousness.
Options for Lemon Orzo Soup
Like most of my recipes, you can easily mix things up to put your own spin on it. Add, remove, substitute.
- Broth – any kind of broth can be used for this recipe, you can even make some homemade broth for the occasion. My tried and true go-to broth is always chicken broth, but I made this one with a large batch of turkey broth I had made at home after Thanksgiving.
- Protein – The garbanzo beans add a great source of protein, but you can add to it or substitute it for any other kind you are feeling or have on hand. Typically I will add either shredded chicken or turkey in with this if I have some on hand.
- Starch – Orzo pasta can easily be changed out with rice for this recipe. Rice will take a bit longer to cook in the broth, so just make sure to simmer the broth until the rice is done cooking – but don’t let it get soft and mushy.
- Herbs – Any herbs can be introduced to this recipe. When the recipe calls for adding in rosemary, bay leaf, and thyme, try your own individual mix of herbs instead.
Lemon Orzo SoupCourse: SoupsDifficulty: Moderate
Garbanzo lemon orzo soup is a bright and happy reminder of springtime and warmer weather with fresh ingredients, broth base, and lemons.
3 medium carrots
3 medium celery
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
9 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cans (15oz) garbanzo beans
1 and 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
(Optional) 3 handfuls of spinach
- Slice the carrots and celery to about 1/8″ thick, mince the garlic, and chop the onion.
- Add olive oil to a large stockpot over medium heat, then mix in carrots, celery, garlic, and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the broth and then add rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Drain the garbanzo beans and stir them into the broth.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and wait for the broth to heat to a simmer.
- Add in the orzo pasta, turn heat down to medium, and stir occasionally until the orzo is cooked – about 15 minutes.
- While pasta is cooking, whisk together eggs and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Ladle out about a cup of broth from the stockpot, then ever so slowly drizzle the broth into the lemon-egg mixture while constantly whisking. When the first cup is done, repeat with a second cup of broth.
- Once the pasta is done cooking, remove the pot from the heat and then very slowly drizzle the heated lemon-egg-broth mixture into the soup while constantly stirring. If the soup is too hot and it is immediately cooking the eggs (looking kind of like scrambled eggs), then stop pouring and wait a few minutes for the soup to cool and try again.
- If desired, stir the spinach into the soup until it begins to wilt, then serve it hot and fresh.
- If left to sit, the orzo tends to soak up the broth mixture – so eat it soon after cooking or try freezing it in pint containers for later