Lemony Chicken Vegetable Soup

This lemon chicken and vegetable soup checks all the boxes. It’s hearty, healthy, satisfying, and tastes incredible. At under 250 calories a serving, it’s healthy, and since it’s packed to the brim with veggies and chicken, it’s ultra-satisfying.

This easy lemony chicken and vegetable soup checks all the boxes. It's hearty, healthy, satisfying and tastes incredible.

How to Make The Best Veggie-Packed Chicken Soup

Lately, when we are out of ideas for what to cook for dinner, this soup (or a variation of it) is where we turn. We love soups to be hearty and satisfying. For this lemon chicken soup, we add five vegetables.

This easy lemony chicken and vegetable soup recipe checks all the boxes. It's hearty, healthy, satisfying and tastes incredible.

There’s onion, carrots, fennel, zucchini, and kale! There’s a small amount of pasta in there, too. It’s optional, but we found that adding just under a cup of dry pasta to the pot adds just enough to make the soup dinner worthy without being hungry after. By the way, if you love pasta in soup, check out our easy chicken noodle soup.

The trick to making this soup is to cook the vegetables in two stages. The hearty veggies like onion, carrot, and fennel go in first. When they are soft and sweet, we add garlic, herbs and chicken stock. Then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Adding the kale and zucchini to the chicken soup

Since the zucchini and kale wilt and soften so quickly, they don’t need as much cooking time. Add them at the end with the pasta, which only needs about 10 minutes.

This easy lemony chicken and vegetable soup checks all the boxes. It's hearty, healthy, satisfying and tastes incredible.

For the chicken, you can use leftover or previously cooked chickensee our whole roasted chicken recipe.

Or if you don’t have any on hand, bake a few chicken thighs in the oven. To do it, slide them into a 400-degree oven and roast until they are cooked through. This keeps the chicken flavorful and juicy. You can even use some of the roasting juices in the soup.

Roasted chicken thighs for the soup

Chicken breast work too, here’s a recipe for juicy baked chicken breasts to help you out or you can use our shredded chicken recipe. In that recipe, we gently simmer chicken thighs in water with onion and spices. You could definitely use this method to cook the chicken for this soup! If you do, use the cooking liquid as some or all of the stock called for in our recipe below (it is delicious).

Serve this chicken and veggie soup with our Sesame Garlic Flatbreads or a side of Homemade Focaccia Bread.

For more hearty soups, take a look at our Sausage and Potato Soup, our Easy Three Ingredient Tomato Soup, this satisfying Lentil Soup, or this Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup from Scratch.

Lemony Chicken Vegetable Soup

  • PREP
  • COOK

This easy lemony chicken vegetable soup recipe checks all the boxes. It’s hearty, healthy, satisfying and tastes incredible. Follow our directions below for cooking chicken from scratch or use leftover/previously cooked chicken in it’s place. You will need about 2 cups of shredded or chopped chicken. The soup is also very tasty without the chicken added.

Makes about 6 servings

You Will Need

For the chicken

1 1/2 pounds skin-on chicken thighs, see notes

1 teaspoon olive oil

Pinch salt and fresh ground pepper

3 to 4 sprigs fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary or sage

For the soup

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup

2 medium carrots, chopped, about 1 cup

1 medium fennel bulb, core removed and chopped, about 1 1/4 cups

2 cloves garlic, minced, about 2 teaspoons

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary

1/2 teaspoon turmeric, optional

1 bay leaf

7 to 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock or use homemade, see our chicken stock recipe

1 medium zucchini, chopped, about 1 cup

1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped, about 4 to 5 cups chopped

3/4 cup small dried pasta, we love orecchiette

Fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 to 3 fresh lemon slices with seeds removed

Grated parmesan cheese for serving (optional)


  • Cook Chicken
  • 1Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or use a small oven-safe pan. Make a bed for the chicken with a few sprigs of fresh herbs. Rub the chicken with the teaspoon of olive oil then lightly season with salt and pepper.

    2Cook until a thermometer pierced into the thickest part reads 165 degrees F, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside until the chicken is cool enough to touch. Remove the chicken from the skin and bones then chop into small pieces.

  • Make Soup
  • 1About 10 minutes before the chicken is cooked, make the soup. Place a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat (we use our Dutch oven). Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil along with the onions, carrot, fennel and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and look glossy, about 10 minutes.

    2Stir in the garlic, herbs and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the stock, turn up the heat and bring to a very low simmer. When the stock comes to a simmer, you will likely need to turn the heat down to medium-low to keep it there. Stir in a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

    3Add the zucchini, kale, pasta, and the chopped chicken. If you like, add some or all of the cooking juices left at the bottom of the pan the chicken was roasted in. Continue to cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

    4Taste the soup and adjust with more salt — we usually end up adding 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons total, but this will vary based on the stock you use.

    5Just before serving, drop the lemon slices into the soup. Serve with a little grated parmesan cheese on top (optional).

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Chicken Thighs vs. Breasts: We use chicken thighs a lot in our kitchen and find they have much more flavor than chicken breasts. They are also a little cheaper at the store. If you have chicken breasts, don’t worry. They can be used in place of the thighs. Just roast until cooked through.
  • Pasta: If you plan to serve the whole batch of soup straight away, add the pasta according to our directions above. If you plan to enjoy the soup over a few days, it’s best to cook the pasta separately and then add it to the soup since as the soup sits, the pasta will soak up the liquid and become mushy.
  • Storing: The soup will keep in the refrigerator for a few days and in the freezer up to a month. It’s best to keep the pasta and soup separate when storing since the pasta will absorb liquid and become too soft. If when you reheat the soup, it seems dry, add a splash of stock or water — there should be enough flavor.
  • Turmeric adds color and a richness to the soup. It isn’t absolutely necessary and you will likely find that most store-bought stocks already have it added.
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving Calories 240 / Protein 18 g / Carbohydrate 25 g / Dietary Fiber 4 g / Total Sugars 5 g / Total Fat 9 g / Saturated Fat 2 g / Cholesterol 34 mg / Sodium 875 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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20 comments… Leave a Review
  • Michelle December 17, 2023, 10:28 pm

    This was so delicious, thank you so much for sharing your recipe! Even my girls that are not the biggest soup fans, thought it was so good! Followed your recipe as written and wouldn’t change a thing, other than I couldn’t find fennel, so I will try to find that next time. This is definitely a repeat and we loved it!! So glad I doubled it and kept the pasta seperate, so we can enjoy over the next couple days!

  • Alexandra December 20, 2022, 3:06 pm

    Made your chickenstock with only feet yesterday and today we made this soup. I just feel on top of the world after eating it! Thank you so much for heartwarming recipes that we need especially this time of year i snowy Norway

  • Tari Anne October 2, 2022, 2:45 pm

    This is the BEST. SOUP. EVER. My 13 yo son even thought so! My husband and I are Keto, so we left the orecchiette out and cooked it separately for my son. We used a combo of vegetable and chicken broth since we had a couple cans of veggie broth we needed to use. Next time I’ll add more broth. Plus I used a lot more lemon. I had never cooked with fennel before and the taste was incredible! (You can NOT get fennel at Walmart, we got it at Kroger. And we used chicken thighs. Thank you infinitely for this recipe! We’ll be making this for Xmas eve soup night with our friends!

  • Callie July 3, 2021, 2:31 pm

    Hi Adam and Joanne! Love your recipes. I am making this soup tonight and was wondering if I could use lentils in substitution of the orecchiette? If so, will they soak up a lot of broth like pasta? Thanks so much!

  • Bat December 3, 2020, 3:55 pm

    Oh my goodness!! 6 stars please?! I made this and loaded with all healthy goodies and topped with Parmesan cheese can’t go wrong! Thank You whoever came up with this recipe! Definitely winter comfort foods and don’t pass up! in love

  • Lisa Daniels April 6, 2020, 3:02 pm

    This came together easily, and has a great rich color. There was not much lemon in it, you might prepare extra lemon wedges to squeeze into it for a better flavor balance. Will make this again!

  • Tanya March 11, 2019, 2:16 pm

    I am cooking this soup again and again! So tasty and filling

  • Ann January 20, 2019, 2:41 pm

    5 stars

  • Tanya January 20, 2018, 1:12 pm

    I love this soup. Thank u, guys, for sharing this recipe. I cooked pasta separately. Just as much as I thought we would eat. Lemon was so good an addition. I haven’t thought it would make such a difference. Only I have twisted a ring of lemon into a bowl with soup and dropped it in it afterwards. Thank u again!

  • Sandra Henslee January 10, 2018, 6:20 pm

    I looked up fennel bulb online and I since I have never used one can you tell me more about how to prepare it? How much of the core do you cut out?

    • Adam January 10, 2018, 9:04 pm

      Hi Sandra, Take a look at our braised fennel recipe. There, we show step photos for removing the core. Here’s the link to the braised fennel recipe.

      • Sandra Henslee January 10, 2018, 9:46 pm

        Thanks that helps so much!

    • Tanya January 20, 2018, 12:53 pm

      Hi Sandra, Fennel is very common for us living in Cyprus. U cut off only brown marks on it. We cook it, we use it in salads, it makes great sauce for spaghetti combined with canned tuna.

  • Sandra Henslee January 10, 2018, 5:58 pm

    Just wondering where to find fennel bulb? I have never seen it in a store?

    • Adam January 10, 2018, 9:05 pm

      Hi Sandra, It’s usually sold near the carrots and celery in our grocery store. I’d ask someone working in the produce section. If you cannot find it, don’t worry, the soup will still be very tasty.

  • nancy kemp January 10, 2018, 3:01 pm

    so i just got an instant pot and i’m obsessed with it. do you think there is a way to prepare this soup in an instant pot. like maybe saute the root vegies, throw in the chicken, add broth, then the softer veggies and the pasta? do you think that would work? how long do you think it should cook? like 9 minutes maybe? Let me know if you have any suggestions. and if i try it in the meantime i’ll let you know. I LOVE all the stuff you guys do. always my first “go-to” for recipes and ideas. Best, Nancy

    • Adam January 10, 2018, 9:07 pm

      Hi Nancy, Thanks for the kind comments! We have not made this in an instant pot yet, but it is on our list of to-dos. I’d expect this recipe to work similarly to any broth based soup. Once we have a chance to try it out ourselves, we will add additional notes sharing how to do it.

  • Edith Goldman January 10, 2018, 1:33 pm

    I’ve read the ingredients list several times, don’t see how much or what kind of pasta to use?

    • Adam January 10, 2018, 9:06 pm

      Hi Edith, You are correct, we make a mistake and left out the pasta. We add a 3/4 cup of dried pasta — any small shape will do, but we love orecchiette since it holds up a little longer in soups.

  • Lilis January 6, 2018, 9:34 pm

    This is yummy


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