Easy, Lemony Chicken & Rice Soup with Dill

May  8, 2021
30 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8 (makes 10 cups)
Author Notes

This umami-rich chicken soup recipe was developed in partnership with Ajinomoto Co. Inc.

Many years ago, I was a line cook at Perry St, a restaurant in New York City’s West Village, where we had a seemingly simple chicken and vegetable soup on our menu. What set it apart from standard recipes of its kind was the hefty dash of salt and bright lime juice we finished the dish with, which always produced a mouth-puckering-yet-can’t-stop-spooning reaction from our guests.

Although I don’t miss the fussy vegetable prep (cutting baby veggies into jewel-like facets and then blanching them in tiny, color-coordinated batches) or the making and straining of restaurant-sized vats of dill-infused chicken broth, I did want to revisit that salty, savory, tongue-twisting flavor at home with a classic, comforting chicken and rice soup.

For this recipe, I managed to recreate the effect without dumping in buckets of salt by using both kosher salt and a high-quality MSG product, which contains two-thirds less sodium than regular salt. While a pinch of salt ties together the flavors of the chicken and vegetables during cooking, adding the MSG at the end with the fresh dill and lemon juice really has a synergistic effect, enhancing the herbaceous notes and highlighting the powerful pop of bright acid, and nailing that balance of savory and tart. But like many good things, you can overdo it. In this case, too much MSG (or too much salt, for that matter) starts to overtake the other big flavors. To make sure you get it right, start with half a teaspoon, which is where I found my perfect ratio. (The general rule of thumb when cooking with MSG: Use about two-thirds of the table salt you'd normally use, and then add one-third MSG back in.)

We've partnered with Ajinomoto Co. Inc. to bring you a series of recipes, stories, and videos that celebrate the fifth taste: umami. You can boost this rich, savory essence in almost any dish (like this soup recipe!) by adding a dash of MSG, a seasoning that's pure umami flavor.Judy Haubert

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 dash kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 sprigs dill, plus ½ cup finely chopped dill (and optional fronds for garnish)
  • 3 to 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG, plus more to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a 4-quart stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, parsnip, and onion, and cook until slightly softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie the dill sprigs, thyme sprigs, and the bay leaf together into a little bundle and add to the pot, along with the chicken broth, 1 cup water, and chicken pieces.
  2. Partly cover and bring to a simmer; cook, skimming occasionally, until broth is slightly reduced and chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Add the rice, stir, cover, and cook 15 minutes more.
  3. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the finely chopped dill, lemon juice, and MSG, adding more lemon and MSG to taste.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Sarah Lacewell
    Sarah Lacewell
  • Lindsay Sadler
    Lindsay Sadler
  • Mama Brunnochio
    Mama Brunnochio

10 Reviews

AntoniaJames January 4, 2024
Delicious! I made this using leftover roast turkey and turkey stock, omitting the parsnip and the MSG, and substituting for the rice barley that I'd cooked in diluted turkey stock with a bay leaf and thyme. Definitely a keeper. ;o)
Sarah L. October 21, 2021
This is one of my favorite recipes I have found on this site! It's delicious as written, but I have started swapping the white rice for wild rice, adding it with the chicken and liquids at the end of step one.
mollie B. January 5, 2021
I made this recipe last night and it turned out fabulous! I did not use MSG - don't use it, won't use it - and I used a little less lemon. Also, I had no fresh dill or thyme in the house, nor could I find my bay leaves, so I added a little dill seed and some sage. I also used brown basmati rice which I soaked before hand. It took a little longer than 15 minutes to cook - more like 25-30 - but it turned out delicious and I can't wait to eat the leftovers.
Jane April 1, 2019
I'm very surprised to see recipe on this site that calls for MSG. This is a food additive that is required by the FDA to be listed on labels of foods that contain it. Many people have adverse reactions to MSG such as headache, confusion, chest pain, and nausea. I am one of those people, experiencing severe headache and even ringing in my ears after ingesting it. Use MSG with caution.
Lindsay S. January 5, 2019
I made this today without msg. My family didn't care for how much lemon was in it, just too strong. I did less than what the recipe called for. I did enjoy making this though, it is really simple and can be changed to suit your personal taste. Next time I will keep the lemon juice as an optional addition and probably do parsley too. Wild rice could be nice.
Ashley October 30, 2018
Will it be the same without the MSG?
Margaret December 28, 2019
I just made it without MSG because I would never add that to my cooking and it tasted great!
Dawn A. October 25, 2018
I had to fight Beelzebub himself to not add any garlic to this while slowing pushing the vegetable melange around my knock-off Le Creuset "until slightly softened but not browned." I am ever so thankful that I was able to resist the urge. The garlic in tandem with the onion would have killed the dill and thyme herbaceousness that shines through this amazing soup. I will admit to one mollycoddle: I used chicken stock and vegetable stock in place of the "suggested" chicken broth. I can only imagine that the broth would have allowed the herbs to more center stage than they were in my riffed edition.
I made a homemade soup, my house smelled amazing, the family ate and enjoyed, I was a superhero. (Still awaiting my cape. I have the handcuffs)
Seriously, you could tell the believable lie that you worked your ass off all day harvesting vegetables fresh from your garden, chopping said vegetables, cooking chicken to peak perfection, and burned your belly on a hot stove preparing this soup.
Follow the recipe, then riff if you must. I am highly doubtful you feel any need to do a 1969 Jimi Hendrix "Star Spangled Banner" riff. Squeeze that lemon over your hot bowl of soup and enjoy.
OH, and don't cook the rice ahead of time. I swear it cooks perfectly in the soup liquids in 15 minutes.
Mama B. October 24, 2018
Made this tonight. Easy and deliciously flavorful. The lemon and dill are key! Will add to our family regular meal routine.
Cheryl October 22, 2018
sounds so good - can't wait to prepare. Tried to save to my Pinterest but the name is too long. :(