This vegetable rice soup is like comfort in a bowl. It's ready in just over 30 minutes and is made with a creamy, flavorful lemon-zested broth, white rice, chickpeas, and spinach.
This lemon vegetable rice soup is very comforting and surprisingly simple to make. It features fresh spinach for a dose of fresh vegetables, and it's easy to modify to include even more vegetables like carrots and broccoli.
It's no secret that I love making creamy vegan soups (vegan potato soup and Instant Pot white bean soup, anyone?). That's why we're using coconut milk for an ultra-creamy dairy-free base. The broth reminds me a lot of cream of chicken soup, despite this being a chicken-free soup!
This is the perfect sick-day soup because it has refreshing lemon flavors, a comforting creamy broth, and it is easy to make in just about 30 minutes.
Why this recipe works
- Creamy dairy-free broth: One can of full-fat coconut milk adds depth and richness to the soup. This soup is a great option for anyone looking for dairy-free lemon rice soup that's still nice and creamy.
- Simple, wholesome ingredients: Despite using simple ingredients like lemons and rice, this soup packs a big punch of flavor. Lemon juice, lemon zest, and shallots create a zesty and multi-layered broth.
- Takes 30 minutes: Lemon rice soup is really quick to make. All you have to do is saute the shallots, then add in the vegetables (chickpeas and spinach), broth, and seasonings, and simmer the rice until it's cooked through.
- White rice: I use long-grain white rice. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the rice to prevent the soup from becoming too starchy.
- Coconut milk makes the broth ultra-creamy. Use canned coconut milk, not coconut milk beverage. I recommend full-fat coconut milk for the most creaminess and body, but light coconut milk works for a lower-fat option.
- Shallot: Chop one shallot and saute in olive oil to make the soup base. Yellow onion works in a pinch.
- Chickpeas add protein and make the soup extra hearty (and they are technically a vegetable!). White beans are another good option if you don't like chickpeas.
- Vegetable broth: Better than Bouillon vegetable base and water combine to make an ultra-flavorful vegetable soup base. An equal amount of vegetable broth works.
- Lemon juice and zest adds a lot of brightness. One large lemon yields about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Spinach adds color and a serving of vegetables. I use fresh spinach but frozen spinach also works.
- Saute shallots in olive oil over medium-high heat until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add in garlic and saute until aromatic, about a minute more.
- Add the bouillon, stirring to combine with the shallots and garlic. Add a small amount of water as needed to deglaze the pan.
- Slowly pour in the water, stirring to combine with the bouillon. Add the chickpeas, rinsed rice, coconut milk, and white pepper.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid, leaving a small gap for steam to escape. Simmer until the rice is cooked through, about 18-20 minutes. Stir in the spinach.
- Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. The spinach should wilt in just a couple of minutes from the heat of the soup. Taste for salt and pepper.
- Rinse the rice before adding it to the soup. This helps to keep the rice from becoming gluey as it cooks.
- Extra veggies: It's easy to make this an extra-veggie vegetable rice soup. Carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, and frozen peas would all go well if you are looking to get in more vegetables. Add the celery, carrots, and zucchini at the same time as the shallot, and the other vegetables (broccoli and peas) at the same time as the rice.
- Serving: I like to top the soup with red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with crusty bread or crackers for crunch.
Yes, you can use short or medium-grain white rice to make lemon rice soup. I don't recommend using arborio rice.
I don't recommend using brown rice in this soup because it requires additional liquid and cooking time. If you're looking for a soup that uses whole-grain rice, you might like my mushroom wild rice soup instead.
I recommend using fresh lemons instead of bottled lemon juice because the soup also needs lemon zest. Bottled lemon juice can be used if it's your only option, but the soup will be a little less lemon-y.
- Leftovers are best within 3 to 4 days.
- The rice continues to soak up liquid as it refrigerates. I found that after just a day in the fridge, I needed to add a big splash of broth to each serving before reheating. The rice gets an almost risotto-like texture when served as leftovers.
- Reheating: Individual servings can be reheated in the microwave. To reheat larger portions of vegetable rice soup, place a cooking pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir every few minutes, until the soup is heated through.
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Lemon Vegetable Rice Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or other neutral oil
- 1 medium shallot roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon see note #1
- 5 and ½ cups water
- 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed (~1.5 cups chickpeas)
- 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 and ½ cups long-grain white rice rinsed well; see note #2
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste for serving
- Heat a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, drizzle in the olive oil. Add chopped shallot and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Saute until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add in minced garlic and saute until aromatic, about a minute more.
- Add the bouillon, stirring to combine with the shallots and garlic. Slowly pour in the water, stirring to combine with the bouillon.
- Add the chickpeas, coconut milk, rinsed rice, and white pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid, leaving a small gap for steam to escape. Simmer until the rice is cooked through, about 18-20 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and spinach. The spinach should wilt quickly from the heat of the soup. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve topped with freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
- Bouillon is used instead of vegetable broth because it is super flavorful. I use this brand. However, an equal amount of water or broth will work.
- White rice: Medium or short grain rice also work.
- Leftovers: For best quality, store leftovers in the fridge in a closed container for 3-4 days. Add extra broth before reheating.
- How to add more vegetables: Carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, and frozen peas would all go well if you are looking to get in more vegetables. Add the celery, carrots, and zucchini at the same time as the shallot, and the other vegetables (broccoli and peas) at the same time as the rice. Frozen vegetables do not need to be thawed before adding to the soup.