This vegan lemon orzo soup with chickpeas and spinach is healthy, delicious and easy to make in under 30 minutes.
This recipe is inspired by Greek avgolemono soup. Traditionally the soup features rice and chicken in broth with egg and lemon sauce. This vegetarian version is made with chickpeas, miso, tahini and orzo.
It’s light, zesty, healthy and easy to make in under 30 minutes with everyday ingredients, making it perfect for a weeknight family meal.
Chockfull of veggies and yummy bites of orzo and chickpeas, this soup is pure comfort food, especially when paired with a hearty slice of warm bread!
- Easy to make in one pot in under 30 minutes.
- Made with simple pantry ingredients and a few fresh veggies.
- Packed with flavour and nutrition.
- Vegetarian, vegan (egg-free and dairy-free), gluten-free, nut-free and can be made oil-free.
- Bright and zesty lemony flavour you’ll love!
- High in plant-based protein and dietary fibre.
What is avgolemono?
Avgolemono is a sauce made from egg yolk and lemon juice in which they are heated together until creamy, thick and silky. You’ll find avgolemono in various cuisines around the world but its most commonly known as a Greek sauce.
In Greek avgolemono soup, avgolemono is added to broth with chicken and rice for an extra rich and creamy finish.
To make this recipe egg-free and vegan, it features chickpeas instead of chicken and a sauce made from miso, tahini and lemon juice, instead of egg and lemon.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Complete list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is located in the recipe card below.
- Aromatics: You’ll need onion, garlic and carrot. If you’re missing fresh garlic you can substitute 1 tsp garlic powder. Celery works too if you like!
- Vegetable Stock: Any vegetable broth or stock works. I like Better Than Bouillon.
- Chickpeas: You can cook your own from scratch or use 2 15 oz cans or 1 large 28 oz can. If you’re using canned, drain and rinse them before adding to the recipe. If you only have a 19 oz can on hand, that’s ok too, the amount doesn’t have to be exact.
- Orzo: Any variety works (check packaging as some contain egg). If you like you can substitute rinsed basmati rice but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time a bit.
- Bay Leaf: Adds a bit of savour flavour.
- Lemon: You’ll need 1/4 cup of lemon juice. 1 large or 2 small lemons should be enough.
- Tahini: Good tahini is creamy and not overly bitter and will add a delicious finish to this recipe. I like Arz Fine Foods or Soom. It’s commonly found in well-stocked stores or you can find it in a Mediterranean specialty store. Sometimes it’s in a different section than other nut and seed butters, so just ask if you can’t find it. It’s also readily available online.
- Miso Paste: White or yellow miso paste works. Miso paste is usually found near tofu in a refrigerated section of the grocery store. It’s common in well-stocked grocery stores or any Asian specialty store.
- Spinach: You’ll need fresh baby spinach. Finely chopped kale would also work!
- Fresh Herbs: The recipe calls for fresh dill and parsley. Fresh is best in this recipe but if you don’t have any on hand or can’t find it in stores, you can substitute 1 tsp dried dill and parsley. The dill adds quite a bit of flavour so if you’re not a fan, either omit it or reduce the amount.
How to Make It
Quick Tip: I’d recommend gathering and preparing all the ingredients beforehand, so it’s a quick and easy process once you get going.
Start by sautéing the carrot and onion in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook them for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft and fragrant.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring often.
Add the stock, chickpeas, orzo and bay leaf and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite. Be sure to give it a good stir every 1-2 minutes to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Quick Tip: Check the orzo packaging for estimated cooking time then err on the side of al dente (or even slightly underdone). It may only need 7-8 minutes.
While the orzo is cooking, mix the tahini, lemon juice, miso and water together in a container until smooth and creamy.
Once the orzo is tender, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the tahini-lemon-miso mixture, spinach, and fresh dill and parsley, reserving a little for sprinkling on top.
Stir for 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted and mixed in.
Serve your lemon orzo soup a sprinkle of the remaining fresh herbs and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Tips & Notes
- For more intense lemon flavour, add 1-2 tsp lemon zest when you add the fresh herbs at the end.
- To add an enhanced nutty flavour to the orzo, add it to the veggies before you add the broth, chickpeas and bay leaf and “toast” for about 1 minute.
- Additional Veggies: You can add celery, peeled and diced potato, finely chopped leek or chopped asparagus to this recipe.
- White beans work well as a substitute for chickpeas.
- Serve lemon chickpea soup with toasty warm bread, naan bread or pita.
- For side dishes, try a light green salad, wrap or sandwich.
Sure. If you can find gluten-free orzo, go ahead and use that. Otherwise, swap the orzo for rinsed basmati rice and adjust the cooking time as needed. You may need a little extra broth as rice will require a bit more cooking liquid.
Yes. You can use any short pasta shape in this recipe. Sub something like bows, rotini, penne or fusili 1:1 for the orzo and cook al dente according to package instructions.
Storing & Reheating
- Let cool before storing.
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- The orzo will continue to absorb liquid as it sits, so the soup will thicken considerably after storing. You can enjoy it as is, or stir in a little additional broth to adjust the consistency to your preference.
- Reheat the soup in a pot on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.
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- Saute Onion, Carrot & Garlic: In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 min, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 min, stirring often, until fragrant.
- Simmer: Add the vegetable stock, chickpeas, orzo and bay leaf. Season with another small pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring every 1-2 minutes, so the orzo does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until orzo is tender, but still firm to the bite (al dente).
- Prepare Sauce: While the soup cooks, add the tahini, lemon juice, miso and warm water to a container and whisk to combine until completely smooth and creamy.
- Stir in Sauce, Spinach and Herbs: When the orzo is tender, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in spinach, lemon-tahini mixture and the parsley and dill, reserving a small amount of fresh herbs for serving. Stir for 1-2 min, until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve: Divide soup between bowls. Sprinkle remaining parsley and dill over top. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon, if desired.
Let cool before storing. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. The orzo will continue to absorb liquid as it sits, so the soup will thicken considerably after storing. You can enjoy it as is, or stir in a little additional broth to adjust the consistency to your preference. Reheat the soup in a pot on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.
Nutrition facts are estimated based on a serving size that is 1/5 of the recipe. Sodium content will depend on the broth/stock used and how much salt you add when seasoning.
- Serving Size: 1/5th of recipe
- Calories: 364
- Sugar: 6 g
- Fat: 13 g
- Carbohydrates: 51 g
- Fiber: 10 g
- Protein: 14 g
Keywords: lemon orzo soup, vegetarian orzo soup