8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium (3/4 cup) carrot, chopped
1 small (3/4 cup) onion, chopped
2 ribs (3/4 cup) celery, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
32 ounces (4 cups) chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
Thinly sliced lemon slices, if desired
Chopped parsley, if desired
Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat just until sizzling. Add chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink. Add carrot, onion, celery and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are just beginning to soften. Add chicken broth; cook until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender. Reduce heat to low.
Bring water and salt to a boil in large saucepan. Add orzo; cook 9-11 minutes or until orzo is softened but slightly firm. Drain.
Place 1/3 cup cooked orzo into bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle soup over orzo. Top each bowl with lemon slice and chopped parsley, if desired.
The cooked orzo is added just before serving. If added to the soup earlier, it will absorb too much of the broth and become mushy.