This Italian Orzo Spinach Soup recipe is easy to make, full of zesty Italian-inspired flavors, and always so cozy and delicious. Ready to go in less than 30 minutes!
Chilly days call for delicious big pots of soup simmering on the stove. And on days when I find myself particularly pressed for time to cook, this simple Italian orzo spinach soup recipe has long been one of my favorites. ♡
To be honest, this recipe initially earned a spot in our family’s regular rotation simply because it calls for basic ingredients that we almost always have on hand, making it an easy fall-back on those days we find ourselves staring blankly into the fridge at 5pm trying to decide what to make for dinner. However, we’ve continued to make this soup again and again because something about that classic blend of pasta and veggies simmered in a zesty tomato broth is just so comforting and delicious. It’s always such a winner!
The great news about this soup recipe is that it’s easy to customize with whatever soup-friendly veggies and greens happen to be hanging out in your fridge. And while I’m partial to making this soup with orzo pasta, you’re welcome to use any other pasta shape (or even rice) that you prefer. I’m just going to insist that you use a generous amount of garlic, Italian herbs and crushed red pepper flakes to season the broth. And a handful of freshly-grated Parmesan sprinkled atop each serving is an absolute must here in our house, yum.
Let’s make some soup!
Italian Orzo Spinach Soup Ingredients
Before we get to the full recipe listed below, here are a few quick notes about the ingredients that you will need to make this Italian orzo soup recipe:
Veggies: We will be using the classic mirepoix combo of diced onion, carrots and celery as the veggie base for our soup.
Seasonings: I love adding in lots of minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning to season the soup, plus fine sea salt and a few generous twists of black pepper.
Chicken or veggie stock: Feel free to use whichever you prefer as the brothy base for the soup.
Diced tomatoes: I highly recommend picking up a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes if they are available at your grocery store. But if not, any can of basic diced tomatoes will be just fine.
Orzo: You will need approximately 1 cup (8 ounces) of uncooked orzo pasta for this soup. Or you are welcome to sub in any other pasta shape of your liking (or see ideas for pasta alternatives in the notes below).
Greens: I love tossing in a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach or kale, but feel free to use whatever greens you prefer.
Toppings: Finally, I highly recommend topping the soup with a generous sprinkling of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. And if you happen to have some fresh basil (or other fresh Italian herbs) on hand, add some in too!
Tips For Making This Soup
Detailed step-by-step instructions for how to make this Italian orzo spinach soup are included in the recipe below, but here are a few extra tips to consider when making this soup:
Add extra broth if needed. This longer the cooked orzo stays in the soup (especially while the soup is hot), the more broth it will continue to soak up, so I recommend serving the soup immediately once the orzo reaches the al dente stage. That said, if the soup sits on the stove for awhile or you notice while reheating leftovers that the orzo has soaked up most of the broth, feel free to add in some extra stock with a pinch of extra Italian seasoning and then season with salt and pepper as needed.
Choose your favorite pasta shape. I love the texture of orzo in this soup, but you’re welcome to use 8 ounces of whatever shape and variety of pasta that you have in the pantry
Season to taste. I love a generous amount of Italian seasoning, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in this soup. But this recipe is incredibly flexible when it comes to seasonings, so feel free to add different fresh or dried Italian herbs to taste. And of course, you’re always welcome to add more or less crushed red pepper flakes to make your soup more spicy or mild.
Don’t skimp on the Parmesan. I highly recommend adding a generous sprinkle of freshly-grated or shaved Parmesan on top of each serving bowl. If you happen to have an extra Parmesan rind on hand too, toss it into the pot of soup to let it simmer and add an extra-delicious touch of umami flavor to the broth as well.
Here are a few more ways that you are welcome to customize this orzo soup recipe if you’d like:
Add a protein: We also love adding in some crumbled Italian sausage (or plant-based Italian sausage) to this soup here in our house. It would also be delicious with shredded chicken or ground beef.
Add extra veggies: Feel free to toss in any other mild soup-friendly veggies that you have on hand, such as bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or peas. For extra protein, you’re also welcome to add in a can of rinsed/drained beans.
Use rice: If you would like to make this pasta gluten-free, feel free to sub in your preferred kind of rice in place of the orzo.
Use different greens: Kale or collard greens would also be delicious in place of the baby spinach.
Make it gluten-free: To make this a gluten-free orzo soup, substitute 8 ounces of gluten-free orzo (or any shape of pasta) in place of the orzo. Or you are welcome to substitute rice, rice noodles, or another gluten-free grain in place of the orzo.
Make it vegan: This soup recipe is already naturally vegan if made with vegetable stock.
More Easy Vegetarian Soup Recipes
Looking for more easy vegetarian soup recipes to try this season? Here are a few of our readers’ favorites:
Sauté the veggies. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Simmer. Add stock, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the broth reaches a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer.
Cook the orzo. Stir in the orzo until combined. Cover the pot with a lid and continue simmering the soup, stirring occasionally so that the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, until the orzo is just barely al dente. (Try to avoid overcooking the orzo!)
Add the spinach and season. Stir the spinach into the soup. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
Serve. Serve immediately, garnished with your favorite toppings, and enjoy!
Recipe update: This recipe was updated in 2021 to include more garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and slightly less orzo. (The original version called for 3 cloves garlic, crushed red pepper flakes to taste, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, and 1 1/2 cups orzo.)