In the case of this soup, although spicy ginger root lends a lovely peppery background note and bright, tangy lemon dances front and center on your tongue – it’s the dill that truly gets the standing O.
Fresh herbs are my friends, and they have been for as long as I can remember. My dad took the art of homemade cuisine very seriously, and leaning on fresh aromatics for flavor (rather than store-bought seasoning packets) was simply a way of life in our kitchen.
Dill, in particular, was one of my very best buds.
The first recipe I remember getting to prepare tag-team with my dad was his famous crab cakes. I still make them today but with my own variations (like this Tex-Mex twist with cumin and cilantro). In his version – which my sister and I feverishly requested at every opportunity – fresh dill was the star of the show.
I know, I know. Enhancing seafood with dill isn’t reinventing the wheel, but you’ve never had my dad’s crab cakes. Unless you’re reading this and you happen to be my mom or my sister (Hi, guys!).
The simplicity behind the meal’s humble, yet earth-shatteringly delicious flavors was part of the wizardry. And I’ll never forget when my dad let me behind the curtain.
Dill holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the very first fresh herbs I handled as a child. Before I was old enough to use a knife, my dad gave me the precious responsibility of “giving it a haircut.”
With my trusty shears, I would stand on a stool beside him, snipping feathery fronds onto the cutting board (and his feet) while he methodically chopped onions, celery, and sweet peppers. The dill’s licoricey scent would waft through the air and probably proceeded to travel halfway down our street.
It’s pungent stuff, after all, despite the leaflets being exquisitely delicate. The herb enhanced the rich, buttery patties with citrusy flavor and I’ve never stopped adoring how it stands out as the perfect flavoring in so many savory dishes.
But again, we’re not really talking about anything out of the ordinary here.
In fact, it’s sticking to “ordinary,” traditional, or classic culinary principles that often produces the most wonderful outcomes. And I think we all can agree that chicken soup with dill is about as classic as it comes.
The herb is a regular in many matzo ball soup recipes too.
Okay, enough ranting and raving about herbs.
No, wait! One more thing. If you absolutely must use dried dill, I won’t judge you. There will be a slight sacrifice in flavor as only the fresh variety has that graceful grassiness, but your palate will still get the idea.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. On to the other elements of this fine dish.
A classic mirepoix of chopped onions, carrots, and celery bulk up and give life to the base. Garlic and ginger provide plenty of aromatic perfume, while cooking the chicken breast in the broth also amps up the flavor.
If you’re nervous that stirring in the lemon and dill just before serving won’t give them a chance to marry with the soup, no need to worry. You want to finish with these big punches of flavor so they’re bright and fresh, the first elements that tickle your taste buds.
Hopefully, this recipe will welcome dill into your life as a forever friend if you haven’t reached that point in your relationship already, in the same way that it did for me many years ago. And if it doesn’t, oh well. There’s always parsley.Print
Fresh herbaceous dill, bright lemon juice, and a spicy kick of ginger are the surprising standouts in this comforting chicken soup.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated (or minced) fresh ginger
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
- Place a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter begins to foam and lightly sizzle, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the veggies begin to soften, for about 5 minutes.
- Season with the salt and pepper, and stir in the garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 more minute and then pour in the chicken broth. Add the chicken breasts and bring the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside on a rimmed plate to catch any juice. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat with two forks.
- Return the shredded chicken (and juices from the plate) back to the pot over medium-low heat until heated through, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the dill and lemon juice, and season to taste with additional salt if necessary.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Soup
Keywords: chicken, soup, dill
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep the Veggies and Aromatics
Group the dill fronds together and pinch them off the stems before chopping. You can also use a sharp knife to separate the fronds from the stems. Holding a small bunch of the dill in your left hand, and using a quick motion with your right hand, slide the knife away from you down each stem to shave the fronds off.
You can use a paring knife or the back of a spoon to peel the ginger before you mince it. Look through this ginger guide for other helpful tips on prepping and storing this flavorful root.
Step 2 – Saute the Veggies and Add the Broth
Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large soup pot or Dutch oven that you’ve set over medium heat.
When the butter begins to lightly foam, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are very fragrant and have begun to soften. This should take about 5 minutes.
Season with the salt and freshly ground black pepper, and then stir in the garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 more minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to release any tasty bits that are stuck to the bottom. (Are you fond of these? Good, because that’s also what they’re called!)
Using homemade chicken stock is always best in my book and it imparts the richest flavor, but a good-quality store-bought version is totally fine here. Skip the salted varieties, and go for salt-free or low-sodium broth so you have the freedom to add your own as you like.
For an added layer of flavor, you could also deglaze the pan first with 1/4 cup dry white wine. Reduce the liquid for about 1 minute and then pour in your stock.
Step 3 – Cook and Shred the Chicken
As a shortcut, you could skip the raw poultry and use shredded rotisserie chicken meat instead of cooking it from scratch. If you go that route, allow the broth to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes with just the veggies and aromatics so the flavors can come together, and then stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken so it has time to warm through just before serving.
To cook the chicken from scratch, carefully drop the chicken breasts into the broth and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer until the chicken breasts are cooked through. Depending on their thickness, this should take about 15 minutes. You can use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is at least 160°F.
Remove the chicken from the pot with tongs and set it aside on a rimmed plate to catch any juice.
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat. I think using two forks is the way to go here.
Step 4 –Add the Chicken, Dill, and Lemon, and Serve
Return the shredded chicken (and any juices that were collected on the plate) back to the pot over medium-low heat and stir. Cook until the chicken is heated back through, for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the dill and lemon juice. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary.
Divide among bowls and serve.
Chicken Soup for the… Well, You Know
Ready to chow down? If you’re craving a thicker, more stew-like broth (deep within your soul!), I’ve got you covered.
Start with about 2 tablespoons of flour or cornstarch, measure it into a small bowl, and whisk in an equal quantity of cold water. Congratulations! You’ve made a slurry.
Whisk your slurry into the soup pot, and continue to stir until it’s thickened to your liking.
Otherwise, keep it as is! I know that’s how I like it.
Some swirl in vinegary hot sauce for an added spicy kick. Some crumble in salty crackers. How will you customize your bowlful?
Share your soup traditions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
For more comforting concoctions to eat with a spoon, give these soup recipes a shot next:
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 15, 2014. Last updated on February 26, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”