Lemon Chicken Soup with Rice

CATEGORIES: Soups and Stews, Stovetop

This spin on traditional chicken soup hits all the right notes with tender chicken and vegetables, hearty and comforting rice, and a finish of bright fresh lemon juice.  Lemon Chicken Soup with Rice is the comfort in a bowl! Try it with a grilled cheese sandwich, or a slice of crusty bread for dipping.

Step 1: Sauté vegetables

Add a generous drizzle of olive oil or a couple pats of butter to a hot stock pot. Like most chicken soups, a quick sauté of onions, carrots, and celery provide a great flavor base.  We’ll add in a few cloves of minced garlic here as well.

sautéing onions carrots and celery

Step 2: Add liquid and simmer

Pour in a good chicken stock and stir to loosen cooked bits from the bottom of pan. Bring it up to a boil and then lower your temperature to a low simmer.  This continues to soften your vegetables and releases all that great flavor into your broth.

pouring chicken broth in soup

Step 3: Add herbs and rice

Dill is easily accessible in dried form in my pantry year-round so that’s what I use.  If you happen to have access to fresh dill, that would be lovely as well.  As a general rule of thumb, which applies here, add dried herbs at the beginning of cooking, and fresh at the very end before serving.  I add 1/4 cup rice, which doesn’t seem like much at all, but I’ve found it the perfect amount to not take over other ingredients. A little salt and pepper, and then you’ll keep simmering your soup until the rice is done, which is about 20 minutes.

pouring rice into pot

Step 4: Add chicken and chopped kale

Towards the end of cooking I toss in some already cooked chicken. I like using shredded rotisserie chicken.  If you have our Freezer Meal Guide, there’s a whole section devoted to storing cooked proteins for quick meals and this is a perfect example of a fast and easy meal when you’ve got cooked chicken already prepped and waiting.

shredded rotisserie chicken

Q: Can I use raw chicken instead of cooked shredded chicken?

A: You bet.  I’ve included instructions in the notes section.

How to Chop Kale

I also add finely chopped kale- here’s how I do it!  After washing fresh kale leaves, use a sharp knife to cut leaves away and discard stems.

removing leaves off kale stems

Then I grab the bunch of leaves and hold tightly in a ball as I mince the greens.  I chop it very small, like just as I would if I was chopping fresh herbs.

finely chopped fresh kale

 Q: Why Kale?  Can I substitute Spinach?

Kale holds up to heat and when chopped super small blends right in to the other soup ingredients.  You can certainly substitute spinach if you like, but if you do, I’d add it at the very end, after turning off the heat, and stir just until wilted.

Step 5: Finish with fresh lemon juice.

After turning off the heat, add in a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  It’s the perfect compliment to the flavor profile.  Serve with a chunk of crusty bread for dipping, or a grilled cheese sandwich.

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chicken soup in a bowl

Lemon Chicken Soup with Rice

  • Author: Sara Wells
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50
  • Yield: 8 cups soup
  • Category: Comort
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


A comforting twist on traditional chicken soup with hearty rice, tender chicken and vegetables, and a bright hit of lemon.


12 tablespoons butter or oil
2 ribs celery, diced
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium-large yellow onion, diced
23 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
8 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry/uncooked rice
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (rotisserie works great)
2 cups finely chopped kale leaves (a couple of large leaves, trimmed and chopped- see instructions in recipe details)
24 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Heat large stock pot to medium heat.  Add oil or butter.  Add chopped celery, carrot, and onion.  Saute 3-4 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds more. Stir in salt, pepper and dill.  Add broth, stirring to scrape any bits off the bottom of pot.

Bring soup to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Add rice and stir occasionally until cooked through (about 20 minutes.)

While soup is simmering, wash kale leaves and use a sharp knife to remove leaves from stems. Holding leaves tightly together, finely chop into very small pieces.

After rice is cooked through, add chicken and kale and stir for 1-2 minutes until chicken is heated through and kale is wilted.  Remove soup from heat and stir in lemon juice to taste. (A little grated lemon zest would be good, too!)

Makes about 8 cups of soup, and even though it’s broth-based, with the rice absorbing liquid, it can become quite thick the longer it cooks.  If you’d like to thin it out a bit, or extend serving sizes, feel free to add more broth to your liking.


If you have raw chicken to use instead of fully cooked (as is called for in the recipe), follow the recipe as written, but after you finish sautéing your carrots, onions, and celery do the following:

Sprinkle 1-2 chicken breasts with some salt and pepper. Push veggies over to one side of pan.  Drizzle a little additional butter/oil if needed and place chicken in pan.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned and flip.  Do the same for the remaining side.

Continue with recipe as written, adding broth and letting chicken breasts poach in soup liquid. Cook until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees. After soup is done cooking, remove chicken, shred, and place back into pot.

Keywords: chicken soup

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