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.
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
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)
Heat 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.
Cook 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.
About 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.
Stir 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.
Add 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.
Taste 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.
Just before serving, drop the lemon slices into the soup. Serve with a little grated parmesan cheese on top (optional).