Souper Creamy Lemon Butter Cheesy Zucchini Orzo!! Kind of like risotto, kind of like soup, kind of DELICIOUS…the ultimate bowl of summer comfort. This simple zucchini orzo is made in under 30 minutes, uses just one skillet, and is a great way to use up that summertime zucchini. It’s creamy, garlicky, packed with zucchini, and finished with fresh herbs and parmesan cheese. Perfect cozy, summer dinner or easy side, any night of the week. Everyone in the house will enjoy this dish, veggies and all!
If I could describe this dish in just a few words, I’d tell you that it’s a cross between risotto and soup. It’s not quite as thick or heavy as risotto, but not nearly as soupy as soup. It’s somewhere in between the two, and most importantly?
It. Is. SO GOOD.
It’s comfort in a bowl and clearly I love this recipe. Before I dive into all the details, some background info for you all. Growing up, my mom would make what she called “souper rice”. Basically, it was cream of chicken soup plus a whole lot of rice. So much rice that you really couldn’t call it soup anymore…enter “souper rice”. I can’t fully remember how she made it, but I know it involved minute rice and cream of chicken broth. That might have been it actually. Either way, it was incredibly basic…and yet she loved it. She would eat it with homemade air-popped popcorn on top. Yes, that’s my mom, carb-loving, and all about comfort. And I love her for it.
To this day, “souper rice” is still a food she would happily enjoy if someone were to make just make it a bit healthier.
I actually made my take on “souper rice” a few years back and it’s kind of what inspired today’s recipe. Honestly, I was sitting outside pondering in my head about what I wanted to make. Zucchini was on my mind and so was orzo. I put the two together and this is what I came up with. Then I remembered mom’s “souper rice” and that’s when I decided I was making “souper zucchini orzo”. I knew even before I made it that I was going to love it.
This is SIMPLE. So SUPER SIMPLE, but my gosh, it’s good. It’s what everyone needs a little dish of in their life today.
Also? I sent these photos to my mom, who at the time was driving back to Colorado from California. And immediately her response was…
Yum! ? LOVE❣️
Yep, I copy-pasted that. And when I told her that I gave some of the dish away, she almost panicked that she wouldn’t have any to eat upon getting in at 12 am. I assured her that I saved her plenty. I knew this was her kind of recipe. She literally gave a sigh of relief. Dramatic, but it’s all true.
OK, moving along here.
As I said, this dish is quick and easy. Start by cooking the butter and garlic together until your kitchen smells amazing, so a minute or so. Add the orzo and plenty of fresh thyme. The garlic and thyme are the big flavors here, so don’t be shy.
Allow the orzo to get a little toasty, then toss in lots of shredded zucchini and a bit of kale too. If you hate kale, not a problem, simply use spinach. If you hate greens, not a problem, leave them out. Next, slowly pour in the chicken broth. For anyone who’s a vegetarian, just go with vegetable broth instead.
Cook the orzo risotto-style, stirring every few minutes until it’s al dente and creamy. This only takes a few minutes, so don’t worry, no standing at the stove for an hour.
Once the orzo is al dente, stir in a splash of milk (I like using canned full coconut milk, it’s delicious, dairy-free, so creamy, and no, you do not taste any coconut) and plenty of fresh parmesan cheese. As you are stirring, smells of garlic, thyme, and parmesan will quickly hit your nose.
Remove from the heat, and simply finish off with fresh thyme. And please, eat immediately. This is meant to be on the soupy side, meaning there should still be broth around the orzo. The orzo will soak the broth up if it sits too long. So enjoy it right away it will be just perfect.
And that’s it. Enjoy a bowl topped with fresh thyme and settle into a cozy summer meal. Yes, meal, I know this might be considered more of a side dish, but around here, this is dinner.
If you’d like to make this a little heartier, try adding a fried or soft boiled egg.
Alternately, if you’d like to serve this as a side, that works great too. I’d recommend my favorite creamed corn chicken, this colorful creamed spinach salmon, a simple roasted chicken, or even a grilled steak. Any of these would be delicious paired with this orzo.
What I love most? Even though this is best right off the stove, the leftovers are still so good. The orzo becomes more like risotto and when heated up, it makes the perfect lunch the next day. Love a dish that you can enjoy for dinner one night and lunch the following day!
OH, and of course, how could I forget. This is a great way to get in your vegetables and use up all the zucchini you have growing in the garden.
Or maybe you just picked up a few too many zucchini at the market, this is your dish. Biggest bonus? Your kids will love this too, just tell them the green specs are herbs. Or maybe double the parmesan, in my book adding more cheese is always a good idea…whether you’re a kid or an adult.
If you make this souper creamy lemon butter cheesy zucchini orzo be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
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Souper Creamy Lemon Butter Cheesy Zucchini Orzo
Calories Per Serving: 1211 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1 pound dry orzo pasta (use gluten-free, if needed)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 medium zucchini and or yellow summer squash grated
- 1/2 bunch kale, finely shredded
- 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup whole milk or canned full fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and garlic, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the orzo, and thyme, and cook until golden and toasted, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and kale, cooking another 2-3 minutes, until wilted. Add the 1/2 cup broth and de-glaze the pan. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, onion powder and season with salt and pepper. Slowly continue to pour in the remaining 2 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer 8-10 minutes until the orzo is al dente, stirring often. It should become very creamy. 2. Stir in the milk, parmesan, and parsley, cook another few minutes until warmed through. As the orzo thickens up on you, add additional broth to thin. It should be creamy, but with just a touch of liquid. 3. Divide the orzo among bowls and top with fresh thyme...add additional butter...and parmesan, if desired. Hint? It's very desirable...
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Gluten Free Orzo: I love DeLallo brand gluten free orzo.