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Middle Eastern Chicken Soup with Chickpeas and Broken Vermicelli

Chicken Soup with Chickpeas and Broken Vermicelli

Adapted from Helena Zakharia. I like this soup with a lot of lemon juice, but John does not. So I recommend adding the juice of one lemon, and then slicing the other one and serving it with the soup for diners to add to taste.
Course Soup
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Author TheSpicedLife


  • 2 lbs bone-in skin-on chicken legs or thighs
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/2 t rounded cinnamon I prefer Ceylon here
  • 1/2 t rounded allspice
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatoes chopped
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/2 cup broken vermicelli
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • chopped flat leaf parsley


  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Brown the chicken pieces--in batches if they crowd the pan. When all of the chicken pieces are browned on both sides, remove them to a bowl. If you are unhappy with the amount of oil in the pan, pour some of it off (I am fine with some chicken fat in my soup--fat is flavor).
  2. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Stir, and let cook until translucent. Add the garlic and carrots with another pinch of salt. Stir and cook another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the cinnamon and allspice and stir into the onions. Let it roast for about 1 minute and perfume the entire dish.
  4. Add the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Let the tomatoes simmer for about 5 minutes and thicken.
  5. Add the chicken back into the pan along with enough water to cover the chicken by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Let simmer for 2+ hours (the longer it can simmer, the more flavor you will have, but the longer it cooks the more gentle the simmer should be, anything longer than 4 hours you should make the stock separately and then cook your chicken because the chicken meat will eventually dry out while it flavors the stock).
  6. 20 minutes before serving, remove the chicken to a bowl and let cool.

  7. Add the chickpeas to the pot.
  8. Taste the soup for salt--remember you will be adding lemon juice. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  9. Add the vermicelli so it can cook.
  10. Shred the chicken off of the bones, and discard the bones and skin. Make sure the chicken shreds are as small as you want them (i.e., bite-sized). Add them back into the pot.
  11. When the vermicelli is tender, add the juice of one lemon. Taste again for salt and more lemon juice.
  12. Ladle into serving bowls hot, and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for anyone who wants more sour (me!).