This lemon-tahini chicken soup is an easy, satisfying soup that’s perfect for the cold weather.
I love tahini in soups and broths; it makes the soup irresistibly creamy and rich, adding deeply savory, nutty undertones.
How to cook with tahini
Tahini–which is thought to have originated in Persia–is a staple condiment throughout the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean regions. It’s also popular throughout South Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia and used in Russian and South African cuisines as well. Tahini is made by grinding hulled sesame seeds into a paste.
It’s an incredibly versatile condiment used in spreads, dips, and sauces. My favorite way to use tahini is by adding it to soups and broths. It adds an amazing flavor and creaminess.
When adding tahini to hot soup, you need to add it at the end, and it’s best to temper it first. It can have a tendency to separate if you add it straight to a pot of hot soup.
When working with tahini, I like to whisk tahini with lemon juice and hot sauce and thin it out with water so that it is a drizzling consistency. When the soup is finished, I add a few ladles of the soup to the tahini and whisk until smooth. From there, I add it straight back to the soup.
I love squeezable tahini, like this Seed + Mill bottle. If you buy tahini in a jar, you will need to mix it up well before using it. The squeezable bottles are great because you just give it a good shake and then squeeze out what you need.
How to make this lemon-tahini chicken soup:
My schedule has been a little chaotic lately, so I’m definitely taking advantage of shortcuts like using rotisserie chicken for quick soups. You can always boil a whole chicken with salt and aromatics, and then shred the meat from the bird and use the resulting homemade broth instead. If you’re pressed for time, just reach for the rotisserie. No shame in some weeknight shortcuts!
What you need
- Vegetables: I use mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. You could easily add fennel, diced bell peppers, or spinach at the end of cooking. If your celery has leaves, mince them up and use them in the soup. T
- Herbs: I use dry thyme and crushed red pepper. At the end of cooking, I add fresh parsley.
- Chicken: I pick a rotisserie chicken and shred it up. You could also use ground chicken instead. Using a rotisserie chicken, I use store-bought chicken broth. As I mentioned above, you can use a raw whole chicken, boil it in water, and then use the resulting broth instead.
- Pasta: I add orzo to the soup, but ditalini or even pastina would be delicious.
- Tahini mixture: Tahini, lemon juice, and a little hot sauce are all you need to make this soup irresistibly creamy.
How to make it
- Step 1: Fry the mushrooms. Start them in a dry pot and let them sweat out all their water. They become a little squeaky in the pot as they continue to dry out. Once they dry out, throw in some olive oil and continue frying until they get nice and browned. From there, simply add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until they begin to soften.
- Step 2: Get those aromatics nice and fragrant. Add the garlic, thyme, minced celery leaves, and some crushed red pepper.
- Step 3: Simmer the soup. Add the chicken and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Once the soup simmers, bring it back to a boil and add the orzo. Cook until al dente.
- Step 4: Prepare the tahini. Mix tahini, lemon juice, and a few shakes of hot sauce as the soup simmers.
- Step 5: Temper the tahini. Add a few ladles of the hot broth to the tahini and whisk until combined. Add it to the soup with minced parsley, and you’re ready to eat!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I did. If you make it, please drop a comment below and let me know what you think!
Lemon-Tahini Chicken Soup
- Large pot
- 8 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
- 3 ribs celery, trimmed and diced
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoons dry thyme
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup dry orzo
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
- ½ cup fresh parsley, minced; a pinch reserved for garnish
- Salt and pepper
Cook the mushrooms:
- Place a large pot on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium. Add the mushrooms and cook, turning occasionally, to let them release their liquid. It will take 8-10 minutes. They will be squeaky in the pot as you turn them.
Sauté the vegetables:
- Once any liquid in the pot has evaporated, add the olive oil and yellow onion. Cool for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms brown. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Bloom the aromatics:
- Add the minced garlic, dry thyme, minced celery leaves, and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Simmer the soup:
- Add the chicken and toss to coat. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and season.
Prepare the tahini mixture:
- Combine the tahini, lemon juice, and hot sauce in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. If the tahini seizes up and thickens, add water and continue whisking until smooth. It should become a drizzling consistency. You may need anywhere from a splash to ¼ cup water or more.
Cook the orzo:
- Return the soup to a boil. Add the orzo and stir regularly to prevent it from sticking. Boil until al dente. Reduce heat to low.
Temper the tahini:
- Scoop out 1 cup of the broth from the pot and add it to the tahini to temper it. Stir until smooth.
Finish the soup:
- Pour the tahini mixture back into the pot with the parsley. Stir to incorporate. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and season and remove from heat.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with more parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!