Sunday soup: chicken soup in an hour

This light but tasty chicken soup boasts a decent chicken flavour supported by lemon thyme and a touch of chilli. It’s the ideal soup for feeding to your family when they have a bad head cold. It’s also great for those really hot nights: somehow chilli and stifling heat go together, or maybe we’re just a family that loves its chilli.

For us, it’s the chicken soup you make when you need it NOW. It goes down a treat. My only advice is that you should avoid touching a face made raw by the cold if you’ve been handling chilli. It can be a very uncomfortable experience.

Chicken thighs with the bone are good for this because it’s easy to cut off the meat, and it’s darker and stronger tasting than chicken breast. The tiny bit of fat that comes with chicken thighs adds flavour to the stock and gives someone who isn’t well some much-needed calories. I simmer the bones along with the rest of the soup to extract some of the goodness from the bones.

Chicken soup, make it from scratch and have it ready to serve in an hour

Chicken soup, make it from scratch and have it ready to serve in an hour

Chicken soup in an hour

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 onion
  • 4 chicken thighs, with the bone
  • olive oil
  • 1 leek
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 red capsicum
  • a handful of lemon thyme sprigs
  • 1 good hot chilli
  • water
  • salt
  • coriander leaves (for serving)


  1. Thinly slice the onion, leeks and red capsicum. Dice the carrots. Cut as much of the meat off the chicken thighs as you can without too much trouble. Keep the bones (you’ll use them in this soup).
  2. In a large soup pot, saute the onions in a little olive oil. Add the chicken meat and the thigh bones and cook until the chicken meat is no longer pink.
  3. Add the leek, carrot and  lemon thyme. Pour in enough water to more than cover everything.
  4. Add the chilli. We use dried chillis and just crumble it in with our hands. If you’re using fresh chilli, you might want to coarsely chop it first.
  5. If you have some stock, add it now. But you don’t need it.
  6. Bring the stock to a low boil, then let it simmer until the carrot has softened.
  7. Fish the thigh bones out of the soup and use a fork to pull off any meat still on them. Set the bones aside.
  8. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with fresh coriander.


About that chilli: for a dish like this, the easiest way to add a chilli is to use your hands to crumble a whole dried chilli into the soup. You could also chop a fresh chilli and add in, or add a teaspoon of chilli paste. Of course, you can add more or less chilli according to your taste and the type of chilli you’re using.

Lemon thyme: if you don’t have lemon thyme, you can use lemon grass instead, or even some fresh thyme and a few thin slices of lemon. The subtle lemony flavour is all you want: it balances out the chilli and the olive oil and chicken. To be honest, we would probably use lemon grass instead of lemon thyme if we didn’t have lemon thyme growing in the garden.

Chicken soup, ready to serve in an hour

Chicken soup, ready to serve in an hour

6 thoughts on “Sunday soup: chicken soup in an hour

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