Portuguese Chicken, Lemon, and Mint soupI’m 100% Portuguese, and my ancestors came to the United States from the Azores islands of Portugal. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the Azores islands with my family. We had a wonderful time exploring our great-great-great-grandparents’ homestead and meeting relatives. We cherish our Portuguese heritage by enjoying the delicious food made for centuries by our ancestors. My family’s traditional Portuguese recipes have been passed down and enjoyed for many generations!
I enjoy sharing my Portuguese recipes with others since Portuguese cuisine isn’t as well-known as other world cuisines. This chicken, lemon, and mint soup is so flavorful. It’s my family’s favorite. You’ll love how easy this soup is to make!
This hot, brothy chicken soup is filled with warm spices, veggies, fresh lemon juice, and garlic for lots of south-of-the-border flavors! It’s a clear, light Portuguese Canja, and works excellently as a palate reconditioner. It was born in medieval Portugal, as it mixes mint and lemon. “Canja” translates to “chicken soup” in English.
I love the fall and winter for the heartier dishes that it calls for, but soup can be enjoyed year-round. Although it’s blazing hot in some areas of the U.S. right now, a heart-warming soup sometimes just makes a body feel good. I’ve just started teaching my granddaughter how to make this soup. Whenever she visits, she excitedly asks, “Avo, can we make the soup again?!” (Avo is “grandma” in Portuguese.)
If you don’t have much time for prepping, you’ll be happy to hear that this deliciously flavorful soup can be made easily with prep time of only 10 minutes. The recipe below makes six servings of soup.

Portuguese Chicken, Lemon and Mint Soup Recipe

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe

Mardie seated on her kitchen counter in an apronIngredients

  • 1 stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 wide strips of lemon zest
  • 4 sprigs of mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 4 sprigs of parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more or less to taste)
  • 4 quarts low-sodium chicken broth or water (or combine the two)
  • 1/4 cup white rice
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 four to five-pound chicken, cut into pieces


  1. Combine the chicken, onion, celery, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, mint sprigs, red pepper flakes, and broth (or water) in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Bring the heat down to medium-low and simmer.
  3. Skim as needed for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
  4. Strain the stock through a fine sieve or strainer into a large bowl.
  5. Move the chicken to a plate to cool off and dispose of the vegetable mixture.
  6. Return the stock to the saucepan over medium-low heat.
  7. Simmer until the soup is flavorful and slightly reduced (which will take about 30 minutes.)
  8. Add the rice and simmer until tender (about 20 more minutes.)
  9. When your chicken has cooled off enough to handle, remove its skin.
  10. Separate the meat from the bones and tear it into bite-size pieces.
  11. Add it to the stock and cook 3 to 4 minutes.
  12. Add the lemon juice, chopped mint, and salt and cayenne pepper to taste; cook 2 to 3 more minutes.

Did you try this recipe? What did you think? Please share by leaving a comment below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 6, 2020, and has since been updated.