This one-pot vegan orzo soup is simple, cozy and comforting. Packed with vegetables, beans, and orzo, this soup is a perfect weeknight meal, and is ready in under 30 minutes!
Everybody loves a good and comforting soup, especially when they're not in the mood to cook. This vegan orzo soup is nourishing, flavorful, and loaded with fresh hearty vegetables, beans, and orzo pasta. This one-pot meal is ready in under 30 minutes, making it the ideal no-fuss weeknight meal!
This vegetable orzo soup only will freeze well for up to a month. Serve it as a meal starter or throw in some beans and it'll make a comforting meal on its own. The best thing about it is that you can throw in any vegetables you have available! You will be eating this spoonful after spoonful!
Orzo vs Rice
Although rice and orzo share some common characteristics, these two are not identical. Simply speaking, orzo is a rice-shaped type of pasta, whilst rice is a type of grain. Orzo is typically made of wheat and is ideal to use in soups, stews, and salads.
Although orzo can be prepared in the same way as rice (in terms of liquid requirements), one benefit of orzo is that it needs less cooking time than rice. Remember, orzo is a type of pasta and requires the usual amount of cooking time that other types of dry pasta do (around 10 minutes).
Ingredients and Variations
Oil - use good quality extra-virgin olive oil. This is needed for the base of the soup to saute the vegetables.
Vegetables - One thing I love about this soup is that it's so versatile and you can use any type of vegetable which is available to you and to your liking. I do suggest using garlic and onion as base flavors though. Make sure to mince the garlic for a spicy kick.
For this recipe, I also used leek and carrots. One thing to note is to make sure that the carrots have softened enough before adding the orzo. Carrots tend to take longer cooking times than some other vegetables and the last thing you want is to have uncooked hard carrots in your soup!
Some other great vegetable variations for this orzo soup include:
- green beans
- potatoes (white or sweet)
Herbs and Spices - Once again, feel free to add any fresh or dried herbs/spices that you love. I added some dried Italian seasoning and dried chilli flakes as well as salt and pepper.
Stock - You will need around 5 to 7 cups of stock for this soup. Similar to rice, as the orzo cooks, it absorbs water and it continues to absorb water even after you turn off the heat. This means you may need to add more stock/water to any leftover soup before reheating.
For this recipe, I used vegetable stock, but you can use any type of stock to your liking. If you want this to be vegan, make sure to use vegan-friendly stock cubes.
Pasta - Orzo pasta comes in a few variations and sizes and it really doesn't matter which one you use here. If orzo is not available to you, you can also use other types of pasta suitable for soups, such as:
- mini farfalle
You can also substitute orzo with rice (please see FAQ section).
Remember, orzo doubles in size when cooked, and will continue to grow as long as its kept in liquid, until the liquid is completely absorbed. So please keep this in mind if you're planning to make this soup ahead.
Beans - The addition of beans is completely optional, but I highly suggest it if you're preparing this soup as a main meal. Beans make the soup hearty, more filling, and are ideal especially during chilly days!
For this recipe, I used canned butter beans. Some other bean ideas include:
- cannellini beans
- chickpeas or garbanzo beans
- red kidney beans
- or a mixture of them!
You can also add lentils such as red or brown lentils.
I suggest using canned beans for this vegetable soup. Make sure to drain and rinse them properly before adding to your soup. I do not suggest using dry beans here as they will take too long to cook in the orzo soup. An alternative would be to cook the dried beans separately and adding them to the soup at the end.
Lemon Juice - lemon juice pairs wonderfully with orzo soup. However, one important thing to keep in mind here is to add lemon juice only if you're serving and right before serving the soup. Do not reheat soup with lemon juice in it as it will turn sour.
So, as a rule of thumb, do not add lemon juice if you're making this ahead, only add lemon juice once the soup is in the plate and ready to be served, and do not reheat leftover soup with lemon juice in it.
How to Make Vegan Orzo Soup
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add and saute the vegetables until softened. This should take around 10-12 minutes. If you're using carrots or other vegetables which require longer cooking times, make sure these are soft before moving to the next step.
- Add herbs and seasonings and saute for another 30 seconds.
- Add stock and bring the soup to a simmer.
- Add orzo and cook according to package instructions (typically around 10-15 minutes). Add more stock or water if the mixture starts to dry out.
- Once the pasta is cooked, stir in beans.
- Add lemon juice right before serving. Do not reheat soup with lemon juice already in it.
- Serve with fresh parsley.
How to Store and Reheat Vegan Orzo Soup
Although this vegetable orzo soup can be made ahead, keep in mind that orzo will continue to absorb liquid even after cooking, so you will need to add more stock/water before reheating to thin the soup.
If you are planning to make this ahead or store it, do not add lemon juice until right before serving. Lemon juice will turn the soup sour on reheating.
Store leftover cooled vegan orzo soup in an airtight container in a refrigerator for 4-5 days.
You can also freeze this soup in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month.
Reheat soup on the stovetop or in a microwave.
Can I Use Rice Instead of Orzo?
Yes you can. Simply add the rice and cook according to package instructions. Rice will need a longer cooking time than orzo but should require around the same amount of liquid. Always add more liquid if it starts to dry out.
Can I Use other Vegetables/Beans in this soup?
Yes! Feel free to use whatever vegetables are in season, available, and to your liking. Make sure they are softened through before adding orzo.
You can use other types of beans or lentils too, as long as they (beans) are canned.
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Vegan Orzo Soup
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium-sized leek sliced into rounds
- 2 medium-sized carrots sliced
- ¼ tsp. dried chilli
- ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
- 5-7 cups vegetable stock + extra as needed
- 150 g dry orzo 1 cup
- 100 g canned butter beans (optional) approx. ½ cup, rinsed and drained, see notes
- juice of ½ lemon (optional) see notes
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onions, carrots, leek, and garlic and saute until soft, around 10-12 minutes (make sure that carrots are softened), stirring frequently.
- Add Italian seasoning, dried chilli, salt, and pepper and saute for another 30 seconds. Add vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
- Add orzo, bring to a boil, and cook for 12-15 minutes (or according to package instructions) until orzo is cooked through. If mixture starts to dry out or thicken too much, add more stock (or water).
- Once pasta is cooked through, turn off heat and add beans. Add lemon juice right before serving. Do not add lemon juice unless you are serving the soup. If you're planning to store/freeze all or part of the soup and reheat later, add lemon juice after reheating and before serving, otherwise soup will be sour.Serve with fresh parsley.