Chicken Shorba. Murgh Shorba Soup. Murgh Yakhni. A mellow and warming indian style clear chicken soup that will leave you comforted and cozy. This desi chicken soup recipe is flavorful, nourishing, keto-friendly and perfect for winter months!!
Chicken shorba or chicken yakhni used to be THE desi style chicken soup in mom's kitchen growing up. She used to make it throughout winter. For serving, she used to ladle it in small bowls with shredded chicken piled up at the bottom. My kids absolutely love this soup as a pre-dinner snack.
When I think of a comforting bowl of chicken soup ,this north indian style chicken shorba is the first thing that comes to my mind! It is a truly soothing soup for cold evenings.Clear, brothy chicken or meat based soups like shorba or this mutton meatball soup or mutton yakhni are my favorite during winters.
What is Shorba?
In indian cuisine, the term shorba or yakhni refers to anything soupy. It could be a soup or a dish(vegetarian or non vegetarian curry) with a runny(almost watery) sauce. In the context of soup, shorba is a clear, spiced stock which is made by simmering vegetables, meat or chicken for a long period of time.
The term shorba is derived from the Arabic word shurbah which means soup. In the middle eastern countries, shurbah is traditionally prepared with meat but indian versions are mostly vegetarian- made with tomatoes, beetroot, spinach or mushrooms. I shared my beetroot shorba recipe a while back here on Instagram.
Why you will love this Chicken Shorba recipe?
- The incredible taste! This soup is mellow (hence kid friendly!) with just the right amount of richness to make you feel satisfied without piling up on the calories.
- Gluten Free! Compared to the chicken soups made with a flour base or loaded with noodles or pasta, this shorba is pure chicken goodness with added nutrition of ghee and aromatic spices.
- It is super easy to make. Making this soup is quite similar to making chicken stock. This is (almost) a one pot recipe and you add all the ingredients to a large pot, fill it up with water and then forget it for 30-45 minutes. At the end of long and slow simmering, you have a pot of flavorful healthy soup waiting for you. However, if you wish, this shorba can be easily made in instant pot. See recipe card for instructions.
- It is really good for you! Be it any cuisine, the nourishment provided by chicken soup needs no introduction and this shorba is a healthier, low carb & keto friendly option. It is good for the gut and is really nourishing especially during sick days or long winter evenings.
- Keto Friendly! With good fats like ghee and the fat from the chicken itself, this recipe is perfectly satisfying. If you are looking for a low calorie, low carb indian soup, this is just perfect and satisfying.
Below are the ingredients you will need to make the shorba. See the recipe card for quantities.
- Bone In, Skinless Chicken Dark Meat - Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks. Avoid using chicken wings! I like using organic, free range chicken. The main taste in this soup comes from the chicken itself, if the quality of the chicken you use is good, the shorba will turn out amazing!
- Whole Spices - Dried Chili,Bay Leaf and black peppercorns.
- Ginger & Garlic
- Cilantro (Leaves & Stems)
- Ghee or Butter
- Garam Masala & Ground Black Pepper
- Heavy Cream or Milk - Though optional, I totally recommend adding it.
Steps to Make Chicken Shorba
Here are the simple steps to make this recipe :-
Step 1 : Gather all your ingredients. Refer to the recipe for the quantities.
Step 2: Prepare the ingredients. This means roughly chopping the onions and ginger. You can leave the skin on the garlic(yay!). Roughly chop the cilantro stems (yes!!). Cilantro stems have more flavor than the leaves themselves.Chop the leaves and reserve them as well.
Next prepare the chicken.In American stores, thighs and drumsticks are sold separately and they are usually skin on. To remove the skin,I simple grab using a piece of paper towel and pull the skin away- it is one of the easiest, non slip ways to do it. If you are purchasing chicken in India, make sure to select dark meat pieces. Avoid using chicken breast for the stock.
Step 3:- Warm up ghee and add the spices, onion, garlic & ginger & cilantro stems. Saute for a couple minutes in ghee without browning too much. Next, layer the chicken and light sear on all sides for about 3-4 minutes. Once the chicken is seared on all sides, add enough water to cover the chicken fully.
Step 4:- Cover the pot and simmer low & slow for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of chicken pieces. While the shorba is simmering, avoid stirring or mashing else the soup will turn pulpy. Shorba or yakhni are clear chicken soups!
Step 5: Strain and shred the chicken discarding the bones. Add back to the shorba. Sightly warm up the shorba and finish with garam masala, cilantro leaves and heavy cream.
Serving & Storage Suggestions
Serve the chicken yakhni soup warm with a squirt of lemon and a scatter of chopped cilantro and scallions. You can ladle it into small cups and serve the shredded chicken on side.
Storage :- The soup keeps well in an air tight container in the fridge for 2 days. Whenever you want to serve it, gently warm it and enjoy! Avoid heating up in microwave or boiling it at high temperature.
In addition, the chicken shorba can be frozen for a few months. If you are planning to freeze it, do not add the heavy cream. Freeze the yakhni right after boiling. Just thaw, reheat, finish as mentioned in recipe and serve.
Recipe Notes & Variations
- You can add a few more spices like 1-2 cardamom, ½ teaspoon cumin or ½ inch cinnamon stick while making the shorba. Just keep in mind that shorba or yakhni is supposed to taste mellow so avoid adding a lot of spices which overpower the taste.
- If you are not a fan of dark chicken meat, you can add shredded chicken breast to the shorba. However, for making shorba, I recommend using only dark meat portions for a flavorful stock.
- If you are not a fan of cilantro, use parsley stems and leaves instead.
- Ideally simmer the soup on low for a full body flavor. But you can very well use Instant Pot or pressure cooker for a quick version.
- Variations :- 1) Add tiny chicken mince meatballs to shorba and simmer until done. 2) If you like it spicy, you can add a little bit minced green chili or sriracha before serving. 3) Add ¼ cup milk if you do not want to use heavy cream.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I thicken the shorba?
Yes, Definitely. To thicken the shorba, simply make a slurry of 1 to 2 teaspoon of cornstarch with 2-3 tablespoon of water. Add slowly,a little at a time, stirring constantly and let the shorba cook a little, check the consistency and then if needed, add more.
Can I use the shorba as stock to make different soups?
Certainly. This shorba is super flavorful and will add a robust flavor to any kind of soup that you would want to make. You can use it as a stock in mushroom, broccoli or spinach soup or even nto cook rice.
Can I use meat in place of chicken?
This recipe is wonderful for chicken and is on a mellow side. If you want to make shorba using meats like lamb or beef, do take a look at my mutton yakhni recipe.
Mutton or lamb need more and strong spices when we make yakhni to take away the gamey taste of the meat. Chicken yakhni on the other hand is made with deft use of spices so that the soup tastes of the chicken and not the spices.
What if I accidentally made the shorba too salty?
If that happens, don't worry! Just add two medium sized peeled potatoes and let simmer until potaoes are cooked through. The potatoes will absorb the extra salt by the end of cooking. You can store and add the potatoes to chicken curry later.
Shorba appears gelatinous after refrigeration, is that normal?
Yes, absolutely! Since this shorba is scratch made with bone in chicken, it is natural for it to turn gelatinous due to the collagen of the bones. In fact, this is what makes it so nourishing! Just reheat and it will be soupy again.
Chicken Shorba Recipe
- Dutch Oven or Large Heavy pot
- Chopping Board
- Stirring Spoon
- 1 tablespoon ghee or butter
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, skin on
- 2 inch ginger, roughly chopped
- 15 fresh cilantro stalks, stems & leaves chopped separately
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-2 Kashmiri Dried Chili
- 8 black peppercorn
- 1 lb(450g) bone in skinless chicken thighs & drumsticks, see notes
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 cup warm water
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional) or use ¼ cup milk
- To Serve - lemon, chopped scallions
- Place the pot on medium heat to warm up. Add ghee and let melt. If using Instant Pot, follow the instructions as it is.
- Once ghee has melted, add the onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, whole spices all at once. Saute in ghee for about 1 minute or so without letting brown too much.
- Layer the chicken pieces and let lightly sear for about a minute or so on each side. Sprinkle salt and add water to completely cover the chicken.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let cook for 35 to 45 minutes.Check mid way and if you see any foam collecting, just remove it using a spoon. If using Instant Pot, close the lid of the IP and cook for 8 minutes and let pressure release naturally.
- Using a colander drain and separate the shorba. Pick out the chicken pieces and let them cool. Once cooled, shred or chop the chicken and discard the bones. Discard the spices and vegetables and pour back the shorba in the pot.
- Bring to a slow simmer and add the shredded chicken, chopped cilantro leaves, garam masala, black pepper and heavy cream. Let cook for 5 minutes, don't let boil.
- Ladle into bowls and serve warm with lemon slices & scatter of scallion. Enjoy!
- Use dark chicken meat for making the shorba and add shredded chicken breast before serving if you don't want to eat dark chicken meat.
- Use parsley if you don't like the taste of cilantro.