Lemon Chicken Soup with Cauliflower Rice has zesty flavor, just like the dish you'll find at a Greek restaurant. Our healthy twist makes it lower in carbs and gluten-free.
No cooked chicken on hand? No problem! It's still ready in under 30 minutes because chicken cutlets cook in the flavorful broth along with all the other ingredients! This trick alone will make you LOVE this recipe!
The substitution? We replaced orzo pasta with cauliflower rice!
It's yet another way to use fresh or frozen cauliflower rice to replace grains you normally find in a recipe. We also up veggie consumption by slipping in carrots and spinach, which are not typically found in this soup.
We're not going to pretend this is authentic Greek Avgolemono Soup, which is silky from a lemon egg sauce. There are no eggs in this recipe and there's no pasta either...unless you want to add some!
But, the tangy lemon flavor shines through, especially topped with feta cheese. It definitely fits the Mediterranean diet profile and will have you craving seconds.
This soup, that cooks entirely in one pot, is exactly what you'll think of when it comes to Healthy 30-Minute Meals.
How to poach chicken in lemon chicken soup broth
If you have leftover Lemon Pepper Chicken or rotisserie chicken on hand, then use it! You can skip this step.
If you don't, then it's easy to cook chicken in the soup broth. It's the same technique that we use in our Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe.
Here's how to do it for this recipe: In a large pot, sautee onion, carrots, cauliflower rice and garlic until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. After that, add broth to the pot.
Next add whole boneless, skinless chicken cutlets or breasts to the pot. They should be completely covered with liquid. Put a lid on the pot and raise the heat to high. Once the broth starts boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
Use chicken cutlets for shorter cook time
Chicken breasts, thighs, tenders, cubes...any cut of chicken may be cooked this way. I used chicken cutlets. Alternatively, you can pound chicken breasts so they are not too thick. Or, you can just cook the chicken a little longer.
Thick chicken breasts might take 10-15 minutes, while chicken cutlets will take about 5-7 minutes.
How to tell when poached chicken is done
Chicken is ready to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 °F. The most accurate way to check is to insert a temperature probe in the thickest part of the chicken. Lift out a piece of chicken with tongs and stick the probe in the side.
Otherwise, you have to rely on cutting the chicken and assessing whether it's cooked through.
When I don't use a thermometer, I tend to overcook the chicken, just to be safe. Cook it too long and it will be rubbery and harder to shred. (Insert sad face.)
Shredding the chicken
Use 2 forks to shred the chicken. Or use poultry shears to cut it. Return the chicken to the pot to soak up more broth!
We routinely keep vegetable broth on hand so that's what we used for this recipe. However, chicken broth is the most popular option.
The brand of broth you use and the amount of sodium in the broth can drastically change the taste of Lemon Chicken Soup with Cauliflower Rice. Research your options and find a product you love.
Or make your own. Taste of Home has a good tutorial for How to Make Broth.
Zesting fresh lemons
Use fresh lemons. I promise you won't regret it! I've added a little lemon juice from a bottle to up the flavor before and ALWAYS regret it!
If you have a microplane, use it to remove the outer peel, steering clear of the white, pithy layer which will be bitter.
Or you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin and then finely chop it. What's Cooking America has a complete primer on How to Zest Lemons.
In my opinion, most of the lemony flavor comes from the juice. I've skipped zesting and still loved this Lemon Chicken Soup.
Cauliflower rice tips
To make your own cauli-rice, cut the cauliflower florets from the stalk. Drop them into a food processor. Pulse for about 60 seconds or until you have a consistency that resembles rice.
I prefer chunkier pieces for this recipe and often make my own. However, frozen cauliflower rice will work as well.
It's an entirely separate process and will take more time, but this recipe is divine when served with Roasted Cauliflower Rice. Just stir it in at serving time!
How to freeze Lemon Chicken Soup with Cauliflower Rice
If you have extra soup or, if you plan to have extra soup for your weekly dinner plan, then freeze it! Store individual servings in freezer-safe containers. There's so much broth a plastic freezer bag is not ideal.
When you're ready to enjoy the soup, remove it to the refrigerator to defrost overnight or heat it up in the microwave.
This recipe is easily modified:
- Replace cauliflower rice with orzo pasta, pearled couscous or rice. I'm not going to lie. I love those soft, little Israel Couscous balls.
- Replace chicken with tofu or chickpeas for a vegan version. Use vegetable broth.
- Use shrimp, scallops or cod instead of chicken
- Add additional ingredients like:
- Zucchini (spiralized zucchini noodles would be delicious!)
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a rating and tag @DinnerMom or #DinnerMom on social media. We LOVE to see your creations!
Lemon Chicken Soup with Cauliflower Rice Recipe
- 1 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion diced
- ½ cup carrot sliced
- 2 cups cauliflower rice
- 3 garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 32 ounces broth lower in salt is better; chicken or vegetable
- 1-2 lemons zested
- salt to taste Generally not needed due to high sodium content in broth.
- 12 ounces chicken breast cutlets or breasts pounded to ½ inch in thickness; uncooked
- 1 cup baby spinach 1 large handful
- 2 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and cauliflower rice and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
- Add broth, salt (if desired,) lemon zest, and uncooked chicken to the pot. Cover with a lid.
- Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in spinach and simmer for 5 minutes more.
- Turn off heat and remove chicken from pot with tongs. Shred or cut into bite-sized pieces and return to pot.
- Stir in juice from the lemons, feta cheese and enjoy!
- Chicken is ready to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 °F. The most accurate way to check is to insert a temperature probe in the thickest part of the chicken. Lift out a piece of chicken with tongs and stick the probe in the side. (see picture above)
- To make with cooked chicken, stir cooked chicken into soup mixture and cook until warmed through.
- To make your own cauliflower rice, cut the cauliflower florets from the stalk. Drop them into a food processor. Pulse for about 60 seconds or until you have a consistency that resembles rice. Don't over process or puree. It's better for the rice to be on the chunky side for this recipe.
- Store leftovers in the freezer in glass or plastic containers. When you are ready to enjoy the soup, microwave from frozen for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through.