Herb Lemon Chicken Soup


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

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Herb Lemon Chicken Soup

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4.9 from 11 reviews

If I were to describe this chicken soup in one word, I’d say FRAGRANT! The refreshing scent of fresh lemons and the herby goodness of cilantro and dill, mingled with coriander and saffron, make this soup a satisfying experience. This is a soup I want to hug for its warmth and flavor.

  • Yield: 8 cups/4 servings


2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (total weight about 1 lb/455 g)

1 large white or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 in/5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp red pepper flakes such as Aleppo, Maras, or Urfa

a pinch of saffron* or 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

6 cups/1.4 L water*

2 tsp chicken bouillon

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 cups shredded cabbage such as Napa

1/4 cup/60 ml fresh lemon juice

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup/2.5 g loosely packed fresh dill, tender stems and leaves, finely chopped

1/4 cup/5 g loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, tender stems and leaves, finely chopped

fine sea salt


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, on the oil, and sear until the skin turns light golden brown, 9 to 10 minutes. Flip the chicken thighs over and sear for 2 minutes until the flesh turns opaque. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  2. Add the onions to the oil and sauté over medium-high heat until they soften and turn translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger and sauté for 1 minute. 
  4. Add the coriander, red pepper flakes, and saffron, and sauté until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
  5. Return the chicken with any juices to the onions. Add the water, bouillon, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and let cook for 45 minutes.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a plate, separate, and shred the meat. Discard the skin and bones and return the chicken meat to the saucepan.
  7. Add the cabbage, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and continue to simmer, covered with a lid for 15 minutes.
  8. Fold in the dill and parsley. Taste and season with salt. Serve the soup hot or warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.


  • A pinch of saffron is about 15 to 20 strands. The saffron can be replaced with turmeric.
  • If you don’t have bouillon, use 6 cups/1.4 L chicken stock.
  • At the end of cooking, you should have 8 cups of soup; if the volume drops, add more water to bring it back up.
  • For the lemon zest, I use this citrus zester.
  • The chicken bouillon can be replaced with low-sodium chicken stock.
  • Cilantro can be used in place of parsley or along with it. 

26 Responses

  1. Hey. Just stopped in to tell you in the description you indicated cilantro but it’s parsley in the recipe 😁 (Can they be used interchangeably in the recipe??)

  2. I was so happy to read this recipe. For years and years I have been adding fresh ginger, fresh lemon and its juice and fresh dill to my chicken soup. When I have shared that combination of ingredients most people have looked at me like I am crazy – until they taste the soup! Now I feel like I’ve been professionally vindicated.

  3. Thanks for the wonderful recipes! I do have your cookbook it’s fantastic.
    I am not a fan of dill mainly because I had dishes were it’s overused and it has put me off. I love cilantro can’t get enough of it. Would you recommend all cilantro in this soup?

  4. Mine didn’t come out looking a delicious as yours. Could be because I didn’t use saffron, and I used red cabbage. I’m surprised that it’s quite tasty My American palate doesn’t use this mix of seasoning. I’m quite happy that I ventured beyond my comfort zone with this recipe. Keep them coming.

    1. Thank you for making the recipe. Yes, changing those two ingredients will make a big difference in look and flavor

    2. Yeah, red cabbage will definitely change the look of things, but it still tastes great! Napa Cabbage isn’t always available in some areas, but it’s worth looking for if you like the recipe.

  5. I feel like I’ve been looking for this kind of chicken soup all my life. Can barely wait to make it! 😋

  6. We tried it tonight at home and it was a success! What a glorious and simple soup! Definitely on rotation from now on. Thank you!

  7. I just made this, and it’s delicious. Smells fantastic, too. The lemon/ginger/herb combination is a winner.

  8. Delicious! Light and refreshing.
    For a richer soup, would you recommend the addition of coconut milk?
    I’m thinking it would go well with the flavors.

  9. Wow! So good. I was worried about this since it tasted a bit bland, but then I added the lemon and herbs. That definitely made it come together. Definitely making again.

  10. Super simple to make and darned delicious to eat. Outstanding outcome as has been my experience with all of Nik’s recipes I’ve tried. Since I always have homemade chicken stock in my freezer, I used 6C of that in the soup to replace the bouillon and broth as mentioned in the end notes.

  11. Can I freeze it? I made a double batch and want some in the freezer for those days when you’re feeling a bit sick.

  12. Great soup recipe! There is a lot of latitude to make it your own but the base flavor is really great!

    Our mods: left over turkey we wanted to use up, shaving frozen ginger instead of matchsticks since we don’t like to bite down on pieces of ginger, added fresh garlic, sumac, and cumin just because we like them.

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