Make Ahead

Lemon-Chicken & Pepe Soup

January 31, 2013
27 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 7 minutes
  • Cook time 13 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Inspired by a multitude of Greek and Italian flavors, this dish is like a soup, salad, and pasta dish all-in-one. While hearty and warming, it has a light touch from the lemon and fresh herbs. The addition of romaine lettuce at the end may seem unusual, but in this case, it adds a flavor and texture that pairs well with the rest of the ingredients. Spinach, kale or arugula could be used in place of the lettuce. It comes together in about 20 minutes, and it's perfect for healthful lunches throughout the week. —foxeslovelemons

Test Kitchen Notes

Loriloveslemons' delicious soup was quick and easy to prepare, especially using already made rotisserie chicken. The lemon -- the dish's the secret weapon -- gave this soup a delightful complexity, while the beans, vegetables and pastine made it nice and filling. It was a little surprising to use lettuce in the soup, but because it was added at the end it retained some of its texture and crunch. This soup would be equally good subbing different vegetables or beans, and it's an excellent basic recipe that can easily become whatever you want it to be. —sdebrango

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 scallions (white and green parts separated), chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 9 cups chicken stock, plus additional if needed
  • 3/4 cup acini de pepe pasta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch Red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)
  1. In a large saucepot, heat oil over medium heat. Add scallion whites and celery; cook 1 minute or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic, zucchini, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add stock, pasta and lemon zest; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in chicken, beans, dill, and parsley; cook over medium-low for two minutes, or until chicken and beans are heated through.
  4. Just before serving, stir in lettuce, lemon juice and scallion greens. If soup becomes too thick, stir in additional stock as needed. Serve garnished with red pepper flakes, if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Megan Murphy
    Megan Murphy
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • Sandy
  • Pamela Hastings
    Pamela Hastings
  • Mae

79 Reviews

Megan M. January 29, 2023
I'm not sure why, but this recipe just didn't work great for me. I even had some good homemade chicken broth that I used, which usually elevates soups a bit, but I kept looking for more flavor. Added more lemon juice, more salt and pepper, and more herbs, but I just kept looking for something more. I did use spinach instead of Romaine lettuce, since I knew I'd have leftovers and wasn't sure how leftover, wilted Romaine would taste. It was OK. But I won't make it again.
OldGrayMare February 12, 2020
Forgot to add: using a really good chicken stock is key! Costco brand organic is our, most “chickeny” IMO
OldGrayMare February 12, 2020
Been making this for several years now...and it never gets old. So “forgiving” garbanzos? Cannelini beans work great. No ancini de pepe? Orzo to the rescue. Can also just toss everything into the crockpot (yes, even the romaine), use dried dill/parsley, bottled lemon still comes out light, lemony and perfect in winter or summer (here in Florida is ALWAYS “summer” - sigh). I make this every year for our condo’s soup supper and its always a hit.
Shana September 7, 2019
I've now made this soup 3 times and I love that you can be super flexible with it. It is now one of our go to recipes. Add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. Be creative -- as noted by other reviewers. I've added carrots (cut in any shape) for additional color and heft. I've found that zucchini spirals work well. Next time perhaps butternut squash cubes. I love adding spinach at the end. And adding red pepper flakes gives it some kick! Overall, you just can't help but feel that this is such a healthy soup that feeds the soul. And the leftovers are terrific! Knowing I have some in the freezer for that night when I'm just too tired to cook is the best!
katherine L. January 23, 2019
Making this tonight but without the pasta and using mushrooms instead .(We really don't need the carbs at the moment! ) Will let y'all know how it goes.
CFrance January 23, 2019
Katherine L., please do! This sounds like a very good way to enjoy this soup without all the pasta carbs.
Sabine G. January 2, 2019
my whole family loved this- but my 4 year old couldn't quit raving about it! She loved the 'baby noodles!' and the 'healthy stuff'! Super easy, SUPER tasty! Thanks so much!
ElisaD December 25, 2018
Made this last night and loved it! Had never used this pasta before and it was perfect. If you can't find the specific pasta (ours was Ronzoni brand), probably orzo, pastina, or even Israeli couscous would be an okay substitution. We also didn't have fresh dill available, so I got the refrigerated paste in a tube ( from the local supermarket.
Sandy December 16, 2018
I made this and it was very good!
Pamela H. September 29, 2018
This is a delicious and easy fall soup, perfect for the first days of cool air. I didn’t have zucchini so I added broccoli and later so it kept its color and a little crunch, and I used orzo. Yum.
Mae December 21, 2017
This is such an easy soup! I omitted the chicken, and used 1 full can of chickpeas and a can of cannellini beans. Very yummy!
Susan October 20, 2017
I have made this soup many, many times since I discovered recipe and it is always a hit. I use a lemon garlic orzo so only need the juice, usually use spinach at end, and do let it simmer a bit longer. Highly recommend this!!!
cocos C. June 29, 2015
This soup has been my absolute favorite since I discovered it last year! (Which is saying a lot, since soup is a passion chez moi.) I just wanted to congratulate you on the fresh and satisfying combination of flavors and textures. Great recipe!
foxeslovelemons June 29, 2015
Thanks so much for your kind words, cocos cooking! I'm so glad you're enjoying it!
Barb March 5, 2015
SarahLloyd March 5, 2015
Hi - Does this soup freeze well?
foxeslovelemons March 5, 2015
Hi Sarah - Freezing pasta always seems to result in a weird texture for me. If you wanted to freeze it, I would recommend leaving out the pepe pasta, as well as the lettuce, then adding those just before serving.
Scribbles January 20, 2015
Made this last night - really good! All the comments about light and comforting are right on target. I used quinoa cause I love it and it worked great. Also couldn't find dill so I went with the thyme and that tasted great. I do want to try the dill as I'm sure the lemon and dill will be super.
Nicole K. January 19, 2015
Would a low sodium chicken stock work? Any recommendations? Thank you! :)
Lynn W. January 20, 2015
I always use Low sodium chx stock for all my recipes. That way you have control over how much salt you add. Also, you don't risk it being overly salty if you want to reduce a sauce.
Lynn W. January 20, 2015
Swanson makes one. Also imagine (both available at whole foods. Trader joe's also makes one but I haven tasted it, so no guarantees. Have fun!
Nicole K. January 20, 2015
Thank you so much! Looking forward to making this recipe :)
ElisaD December 25, 2018
I'm a big fan of the Low Sodium Redi-Base stocks. Mail order only, but well worth it. These are concentrated and keep the refrigerator. I use the chicken, beef, vegetable (that one is shelf-stable) and mushroom bases.
Carol January 2, 2015
Served this to a large group on New Year's Eve and everyone went back for seconds. I used the rotisserie chicken carcass to make the stock (along with a second carcass I had in the freezer) rather than using commercially prepared stock. I substituted escarole for the romaine as I thought it would hold up a bit better as I needed to do most of the prep in advance. Very successful substitution. Will definitely be making this one again.
foxeslovelemons January 2, 2015
LOVE the escarole substitution, Carol. Sounds so good! I'm so glad this was a hit for you!
Eva November 26, 2014
This soup exceeded my expectations! The flavors are complex but not too complex. It was delicious! This is going into my rotation.
foxeslovelemons November 26, 2014
So glad you enjoyed it, Eva! Thanks so much for the kind words.
This looks fabulous, Lori! Pinning to make it this weekend. LOVE!
foxeslovelemons May 21, 2014
Thanks so much, Susan. I hope you love it!
robin L. May 21, 2014
For the picky eater in the family, do you think it would be fine to leave out the green onions and lettuce and serve them on the side as a garnish for the rest of us?
Alexandra P. May 21, 2014
I am confident that the soup will taste just great for those picky li'l eaters! Only the fine dining people will notice the absence of the green onions and the lettuce doesn't add or take away much really, so go ahead. They will love it for sure. :-)
foxeslovelemons May 21, 2014
I agree with Alexandra, the soup will still be lovely serving these things on the side. Enjoy!