There are a few soups that I keep in my back pocket for sick-day comfort food recipes. This chicken meatball soup with orzo pasta is one of those that always is well-recieved.
The first time I served this winter-ready updated chicken soup, the kids had the sniffles, Betsy had the start of a sore throat, and I kept wanting to inch up the thermostat a few degrees due to the first real cold-spell in Denver this winter.
A warming soup with some classic aromatic vegetables like celery and carrots simmer with homemade roasted chicken meatballs, this soup has classic flavors but with an updated twist from your standard chicken noodle soup.
How to make the chicken meatballs
While you could use shredded chicken for this soup to take some time off the prep work, I love the little meatballs, which get baked, but then simmered along with the aromatics, orzo, and broth to make a really delicious and relatively quick soup. I listed it as an hour, but you can do it faster if you’re efficient.
To make these meatballs stir together the ground chicken in a medium bowl with the other meatball ingredients like minced garlic, parsley, and grated parmesan. Add the egg and milk along with the breadcrumbs and bring the mixture together. If the chicken meatball mixture seems too sticky, you can add more breadcrumbs until it holds its shape.
Then roll the meatballs out and bake them for about 25 minutes at 375˚F. You should get 55-60 meatballs out of the batch so make them on the smaller side for meatballs.
From the oven these can go straight in your soup which should be already simmering!
What broth works well for this chicken soup?
I’m usually a big fan of homemade chicken stock. It truly is hard to beat. If you are using storebought though, my go-to stock is the Zoup! line of stock. It’s a little more expensive than other brands but has wonderful flavor.
I think that this Zoup!’s line of broth (and especially the bone broth) is actually better than my homemade version. Or at least it’s close enough that I can claim it as homemade and not even my wife would know. It’s that good.
But, I’ll never tell you to not make a recipe just because you don’t have the exact broth I use. Any broth will work great and you’ll be happy with the result!
Finishing this Chicken Meatball Soup
While your meatballs bake, you can get your soup simmering so it’s ready to go when your meatballs are done.
Add the onions, celery, and carrots to a large pot with a drizzle of olive oil. Once you soften your veggies in some olive oil in a large pot, add the broth!
I like to cook the orzo in the soup for this version, but make sure to not add too much. It won’t look like much but it really expands. If you add too much it’ll soak up all your delicious broth.
The pasta will need to simmer for around 10 minutes to cook and at some point you can stir in your meatballs as well to get the flavors combined.
Spoon it all up in a bowl with fresh parsley and this chicken meatball orzo soup is done!
Substitutions and Ideas
This is a very flexible soup recipe and you should feel free to experiment with it!
- Chicken substitution! You could substitute ground turkey for chicken if you prefer that. I wouldn’t use beef though as it will be a bit too heavy.
- Add other vegetables to the soup to make it heartier. White beans or baby spinach would be a good addition.
- Change out the pasta for something like pearl couscous or any small pasta.
- Instead of, or in addition to, pasta, serve this soup with crusty bread or maybe a good garlic bread.
Freezing and reheating the soup
This soup stores great in the fridge for a week, but you can freeze it for longer storage, probably up to three months. I recommend freezing it in an airtight freezer bag.
To reheat, I recommend warming it on the stove over low heat. The pasta probably will have absorbed some of the liquid in the soup so feel free to add a splash of extra broth or water to the soup to thin it out.
Chicken Meatball Orzo Soup
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 qt. chicken broth
- ⅓ cup orzo pasta
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, garnish
- For meatballs, preheat oven to 375 degrees F375 °F. and line a baking sheet with foil. In a medium bowl, mix together all the meatball ingredients. Make sure the mixture is evenly combined. It should hold its shape.
- Make small meatballs out the mixture, aiming for heaping teaspoon-sized meatballs. You should get 55-60 meatballs out of the batch.
- Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes. Test one to make sure they are completely cooked through.
Making the Soup
- Meanwhile, for the soup, add a drizzle of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onion, carrot, and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until vegetables soften, 5-6 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. When broth is simmering, turn heat down to low, add orzo pasta, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes to cook pasta.
- When meatballs are done, stir them into the soup.
- Taste soup and season with salt and pepper to your taste. It may need a pinch of both but shouldn’t need much additional seasoning.
- Serve soup piping hot with fresh parsley.