Chicken Soup with Za’atar, Lemon, and Parsnips

Chicken Soup with Za'atar Lemon and Parsnips

I’ve been trying to plan our 2015 March BreACK!, which means having a look back at last year’s amazing Mediterranean week.  The thing I long for the most is the taste of our Cheese and Za’atar Manakeesh, those lovely seasoned flatbreads the kids gobble up like pizza. [Toby still won’t eat the za’atar, but Bea has become a complete convert!] Even with this head cold, when I think of those flatbreads, I can still taste the sumac on my tongue.  As I was concocting this recipe [in order to nurse that head cold and all of the other head colds in the house], I ended up making myself several slices of toast and slathering them with butter and za’atar. It was heavenly!  Suprisingly, or not so suprisingly, broiled grapefruit also made a fabulous side.

A word to the wise, here: Za’atar has high salt content, so please be sure to use low or no-salt stock when making this soup!
Chicken Soup with Za'atar Lemon and Parsnips recipe

Chicken Soup with Za'atar, Lemon, and Parsnips

Author: Roseanne Carrara, The Lunchbox Season


  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • several tbs za'atar
  • 6 pieces of chicken legs with thighs attached [or 1.6 kg bone-in chicken]
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onion [2-3 onions]
  • 2 cups chopped celery [about 5 stalks]
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 c white wine [water or stock]
  • 1800 ml low or no salt chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 c water
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 3 1/2 c chopped parsnips [1 lb about 5 parsnips]
  • 3 1/2 c chopped carrots [1 lb about 5 carrots]


  • In a very large stock pot or dutch oven, heat 2-3 tbs olive oil.
  • Season chicken liberally with za'atar.
  • Brown chicken in batches in pot over medium-high heat.
  • Remove chicken and set aside.
  • [If desired, remove a few tablespoons of the fat from the pan. You want to have about 2-3 tbs total fat.]
  • Add onions and celery to the pot.
  • Stir and cook over medium heat until onions soften and begin to brown slightly [about 10 minutes].
  • Just as the bottom of the pan begins to brown, add 1 tbs minced garlic and 1 tsp of the lemon zest.
  • Stir for about 30 seconds.
  • Deglaze by adding .5 c of the white wine [water or stock] and scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat whisk or wooden spoon.
  • Remove the onion and celery mixture from the pot and set aside.
  • Return the chicken to the pot and add the stock, lemon juice, and water.
  • Bring to a boil and boil for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove chicken to a cutting board and cool slightly.
  • Add parsnips and carrots to boiling broth and cook for at least 10 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through.
  • In the meantime, remove the bones from the chicken and slice. [You choose whether or not you want to slice and return the skin to the soup]. You should have about 4 cups of chicken pieces for your soup.
  • Return onions and celery to the pot.
  • Return sliced chicken to the pot.
  • Add the remaining 1 cup of white wine to the pot.
  • Cook for a few more minutes.
  • Remove as much fat as you would like from the soup with a spoon, paper towel, or turkey baster.
  • Add 1-3 tsp additional za'atar.
  • Serve with a .5 tsp za'atar and some lemon zest or a lemon slice.


If you can't find za'atar, make your own by following this beautiful recipe from 101 cookbooks]

Side dishes that rock with this soup: Cheese or Za’atar Manakeesh and Broiled Grapefruit.

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