There's a chicken soup for every season, and this one says summer

  • Chicken Orzo Soup with Pesto will have you enjoying this hot dish even in the heat of summer.

    Chicken Orzo Soup with Pesto will have you enjoying this hot dish even in the heat of summer. Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post

By Bonnie S. Benwick
The Washington Post
Updated 7/25/2019 6:28 AM

These are the days when food sites thrill to charms of seasonal eating, boasting that their food tastes like summer and is perfect for picnics. Phrases such as "summer in a bowl" and "summer on a grill" become increasingly common. I wasn't expecting a hot brothy pot to figure into this line of tropes, but here it is: chicken soup for summer.

Then again, it should be no surprise. America loves chicken soup. Homemade or store-bought, it's always at the top of most-popular lists. It lives up to its hype as comfort food, healing food and healthful food. Recipes can take hours or minutes, and they welcome modification. The stock can be rich and flavored or light and clarified, but plant-based add-ins are the elements that distinguish chicken soup's seasons: kale and roasted garlic in the fall, hearty leeks in winter, carrots and dill in spring.


This one-pot chicken soup relies on the summer calling cards of lemon, tomato and zucchini. Oddly enough, the flavor of chicken takes a back seat. Instead, the bite-size chunks of lean meat lend texture and pair naturally with the light pasta element of slippery orzo. Each bowlful gets topped with a helping of basil pesto, which seals the deal, summerwise.

Slurp it up warm or even at room temperature; it'll be fine. Leftovers morph into stewy territory, as the orzo tends to absorb the broth after a day's refrigeration.

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