A blog about making things - one small batch at a time

Lemony Kale and Chicken Soup

Lemony Kale and Chicken Soup

This recipe was born of necessity. A couple weeks ago I was disgustingly ill – fever, sore throat, cough, etc. Of course my husband was working, and I needed a piping hot bowl of soup to the face, stat.

Since I’d been sick, I hadn’t been to the grocery store in days. There was barely a fresh item in the fridge. I’d already drained two boxes of Trader Joe’s tomato soup, and things were looking desperate.

I started scouring our house for anything that I could turn into soup. I came up with a can of beans, a box of chicken stock, some frozen kale, chicken thighs, onions, and carrots. I also had a couple lemons with only a day or two of life left.

lemony kale and chicken soup

Back when I used to binge-watch the Food Network, I remember a recipe for chicken soup (made by an extremely annoying chef). Other than the irritation, I distinctly remember her using lemons in the soup, and thinking, hmm that’s intriguing.

Bright and nutritious lemony kale soup sounded like just the ticket, so I experimented, grating off some of the zest into the broth and right at the end squeezing a whole lemon’s worth of juice directly into the soup. What happened next was an absolute life saver – I ate it non stop for three days while my cough subsided. I could actually taste the bright, slightly acidic lemon, the broth felt amazing on my throat, and the dark leafy greens were nourishing.

lemon and lemon zest

Lemony Kale and Chicken Soup

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs – fat trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • ½ (12 oz) bag frozen kale
  • 32 oz chicken stock (ideally home made, but in a pinch, the box stuff will work fine)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

With a large Dutch oven  (like this beautiful Le Creuset one)
on medium heat, add in your vegetable oil and start browning your chicken pieces. Once browned, add onion, carrot, thyme, and bay leaf. Let cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often until vegetebles start getting some color.  Add in your kale, water, and stock with a stir. Let come to a rapid simmer then partially cover and let simmer on medium low for 45 minutes to an hour, or until chicken is nice and tender. You may need to add more water to get the consistency you want. Once chicken is tender, add half a lemons worth of zest and  taste for seasoning. Add any salt or pepper as needed. Let  simmer for five more minutes to bring flavors together. Turn off heat, then add a lemon’s worth of juice. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig.

I’d pair the soup with a spritzy, citrusy wheat beer. The lemon will resonate wonderfully with the slightly acidic, bready flavors of the malt.


Whether you’re sick or just want a super delicious soup, make up a double batch of this easy, one pot Lemony Kale and Chicken soup. Eat half now, and freeze the other half for the next time you’re feeling like hell and have nothing in the house to eat.

You won’t regret it.

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