Lemon Caper Penne Pasta

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Lemon Caper Penne Pasta recipe souplantation copycat

It has recently come to my attention that the popular Southern California restaurant chain Souplantation is closing down. When I was in school my father would take my brother and I to Souplantation every Monday. One of my favorite dishes there was this lemon caper penne pasta. Now, I haven’t been to said restaurant in nearly a decade, but in honor of the good memories I’ve decided to remake the recipe for the blog. It is kind of like a classed down version of my Lemon Spaghetti With Prawns or my Seared Scallops With Lemon Caper Pasta, but still very tasty.

This recipe is the same one posted to Souplantation At Home years ago, and I have to say it is really accurate. I’ve only changed a few things like using heavy cream instead of half and half, and using chicken stock instead of base. Now, I’m not going to say that this is authentic Italian food, because it’s more American than anything, but this is a good copycat recipe. If you like tangy, fresh flavors then you will still enjoy this lemon caper penne (at home).

Boiling penne pasta in a pan

The best thing about this dish is it can be done entirely in one pan. This makes clean up a breeze, and keeps the cooking streamlined. To start, set a pan of water boiling with some salt. Add in the penne pasta (8 oz or 250 grams) along with a block of frozen spinach (100 grams). The spinach and pasta will cook at the same time, and then after about 8 minutes, reserve a quarter cup (60ml) of pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

cooked penne and spinach

The sauce only takes 5 or so minutes so the pasta will be fine resting on the counter. Back in the pan add 2 tbsp of flour and 2 tbsp of butter on medium low heat. Whisk together to create a roux and let cook for a minute, being careful not to let it burn.

making a roux

Once the roux is combined add the heavy cream (250 ml ~1 cup), lemon juice (60 ml 1/4 cup), Chicken stock (60 ml 1/4 cup), lemon zest (1/2 tbsp), salt (1/4 tsp) and black pepper (1/4 tsp). Raise the heat to medium and whisk everything together. Here the original Souplantation copycat recipe says to cook for 10 minutes, but I feel that is far too long, and 2-3 minutes is more than enough for it to thicken combine.

lemon caper penne pasta sauce ingredients

Once the lemon sauce is thickened and combined, reintroduce the penne and spinach and toss to combine. Or better yet, use a rubber spatula as tossing this sauce is actually kind of difficult.

lemon caper penne sauce

After mixing lightly, add the capers and mix again. The recipe calls for 2 tbsp of capers, but I’ve doubled it because 1) I like capers, and 2) think of that ingredient as ‘to taste’. I mean, it is called Lemon Caper Penne, not Lemon Roux Penne.

lemon caper penne pasta in a pan

At Souplantation this is the end of the line for the lemon caper penne pasta recipe. At least, I can’t remember any garnishes. I decided to add a few lemon supremes on top because I’m all about that tart flavor. You can also serve it with some fresh chopped parsley, or a lemon wedge.

lemon caper penne pasta pin recipe

Lemon Caper Penne Pasta

This Souplantation copycat lemon caper penne is easy to make at home, especially since Souplantation just shut down.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Main Dish, Primi
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Copycat Recipe, Lemon Caper Penne, Lemon Pasta, Souplantation
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Cost: $5


  • Pan


  • 250 grams Penne Pasta about 2 cups or 8 ounces
  • 100 grams Spinach frozen
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Flour AP
  • 250 ml Heavy Cream about 1 cup
  • 60 ml Lemon Juice 1/4 cup, freshly squeezed
  • 60 ml Chicken Stock 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 tbsp Lemon Zest
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 4 tbsp Capers more or less to taste


  • Start boiling a pan of salted water. Add the penne pasta and the frozen spinach and let boil for 8 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water, strain the pasta and spinach and set aside.
  • In the pan add the butter and flour on medium low heat and whisk together. Stir for a minute to cook but prevent burning. Then add in the rest of the ingredients except for the capers. Turn the heat up to medium and whisk constantly to thicken and reduce. After about 3 minutes add back in the pasta and spinach.
  • Toss the pasta to combine (or use a rubber spatula as it's actually easier with this sauce). Add the capers and mix again. Serve in black bowls a la tradition and garnish with fresh chopped parsley or lemon supremes (if you like it tart like me).


This pasta holds well for a few days in the fridge. The sauce does congeal though, so I would add a tbsp of water before microwaving it again to thin it out. 
You can add chicken or other meats for more protein (or tofu if you like), but if you want to make it completely vegetarian you can use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. I would recommend a 1/4 cup of vegetable stock + 1/2 tsp dried mushroom powder.
Did you make this?Mention @CookingToEntertain or tag #cookingtoentertain and let me know how it was!

Lemon Caper Penne Pasta (Souplantation Copycat Recipe)

lemon caper penne pasta pin recipe
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  1. Love, love this! Thank you! But I don’t use spinach or capers, but I add diced chicken breast.
    So delish! A dish to wow company for sure.

  2. 5 stars
    They also had a chain called Lettuce Surprise You in Atlanta and they would prepare this dish during their lemon themed summer months. I believe April or May. The search for this recipe is what brought me here. THANK YOU! I was beginning to feel like a Souplantation/Lettuce Surprise You lone ranger!

    1. Oooh I didn’t know that. The spring and summer themes were always my favorite though.

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