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Chikhirtma (Homemade Chicken Soup)

Chikhirtma – Cozy up with a piping hot bowl of chikhirtma- our Georgian chicken soup combines tart lemon, tangy dill, and creamy egg yolks to create a velvety, smooth broth to complement the chicken and vegetables. We are big soup lovers, and just like the old book series from the 90s, this chicken soup is good for the soul. While you’re thinking about soup, try our Beef and Barley Soup and our Zuppa Toscana Instant Pot Copycat.

A single serving of homemade chicken soup garnished with cilantro..

WHAT IS CHIKHIRTMA?

Everyone needs to have a chicken soup recipe in their pocket. Make ours at the onset of cooler temperatures, when you’re feeling under the weather, or save it for when you’re craving pure comfort food. If I had to choose just one recipe, this would be mine!

Chikhirtma is a traditional Georgian chicken soup known for its rich chicken stock that’s thickened and flavored with tempered eggs. While each family recipe is a little different, the base is the same, made-from-scratch chicken stock, tempered eggs, lemon, and bright herbs like cilantro and dill. Like many recipes from Georgia (Georgia, the country, not the state), the famous soup takes the most simple ingredients and transforms them into a complex and beautiful meal you’ll love.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Chicken Stock: I prepare homemade chicken stock using a broken-down whole chicken. Dill and cilantro stems add tartness and the garlic and onion round out the broth. It wouldn’t be complete without whole spices like peppercorns, coriander, cinnamon sticks, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves.
  • Chicken: I use a whole chicken, but use chicken thighs and legs or a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to shorten the cooking time.
  • Garlic: A whole garlic head cooks in the broth, and becomes a flavor bomb.
  • Butter: A stick of butter may seem excessive, but it provides richness, and it’s a necessary ingredient for the roux.
  • Carrots: Carrots add bulk and a beautiful pop of color.
  • Flour: Create a blonde roux using flour and butter.
  • Soy Sauce: Cut some of the acidity with umami-rich soy sauce.
  • Egg Yolks: Egg yolks thicken the soup and compliments the tartness of ingredients, like lemon and dill.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice lends a tangy traditional Georgian flavor.
  • Herbs: Garnish with fresh cilantro and dill.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CHICKEN SOUP

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

For the Chicken Stock:

Tie the stems of the cilantro and dill bundles, and cut off the leaves; reserve ¼ cup of each to garnish the soup.

Cut off and discard the top third of a garlic head, leaving the head intact.

dill and cilantro bunches, stems only, for the stew

Simmer whole chicken, cilantro stems, dill stems, and garlic head in a Dutch oven for 1 hour.

chicken broth ingredients for chikhirtma

Remove the lid and scoop up the garlic head; set it aside. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and shred it, discarding the skin, bones, and cartilage.

chicken pulled from the broth and set aside for chikhirtma

Use a colander to strain the broth into a mixing bowl.

Squeeze the garlic head into the broth using tongs, and whisk to combine. Set the broth aside.

For the Georgian Chicken Soup:

In the Dutch oven, add butter, carrots, and onions; cook over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes.

carrot and onion sauteeing for chikhirtma

Add flour and stir for 5-7 minutes to build a blonde roux, then deglaze with soy sauce.

adding the roux to chikhirtma

Add 2 cups of the reserved broth; give it a quick stir, and simmer for 5 minutes.

chicken broth re-added to the chikhirtma

In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice. Continue whisking while slowly adding 2 cups of the reserved hot broth.

Then, remove the Dutch oven from heat and whisk in egg mixture. Stir to combine.

eggs being tempered for chikhirtma

Return the chicken along with any accumulated juices to the pan.

chicken shredded and added back to the soup for chikhirtma

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro, dill, and red pepper flakes to serve.

tempered eggs added to the soup for chikhirtma

COOKING TIPS

  • Before squeezing the lemons, rub them on the countertop with your palm; this allows more lemon juice to release. 
  • Do not simmer the soup after adding the tempered eggs. Doing so will cook the eggs further rather than temper them in the broth.

INSTANT POT CHIKHIRTMA

For the Chicken Stock:

  1. Tie the stems of the cilantro and dill bundles, then trim the leaves; reserve ¼ cup of each to garnish the soup.
  2. Cut off and discard the top third of the garlic head, leaving the head intact.
  3. Add the chicken, cilantro and dill stems, and garlic head to an Instant Pot, along with the remaining broth ingredients. Bring soup to a boil using the saute mode. Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 30 minutes with a natural release.
  4. Remove the lid and scoop up the garlic head. Set aside.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the skin, bones, and cartilage. Keep the legs intact if you prefer, but I remove the skin.
  6. Strain the broth into a mixing bowl using a colander and discard any solids.
  7. Squeeze the garlic head into the broth using tongs, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

For the Georgian Chicken Soup:

  1. In the Instant Pot, add butter, carrots, onions, and salt; cook on saute mode until the onions become translucent and soften for about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Add flour and cinnamon. Stir for 1-2 minutes to build a roux, and then deglaze with soy sauce.
  3. Add two cups of the reserved broth; give it a quick stir and simmer on saute mode for 5 minutes.
  4. In another mixing bowl, whisk the yolks and lemon juice together. Continue whisking while slowly adding the 2 cups of hot broth. Then, unplug the Instant Pot and whisk in the lemon juice and eggs mixture.
  5. Stir to combine. Do not simmer once the eggs are added.
  6. Add the reserved chicken and any accumulated juices.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh cilantro, dill, and red pepper flakes to serve.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of our other soup and stew favorites!

A single serving of homemade chicken soup garnished with red chili flakes, dill, and cilantro..

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • Sourdough Bread
  • House Salad
  • Rice
  • Biscuits
  • Saltine Crackers

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store the leftovers in an airtight container; it will keep for 3-4 days.
  • FREEZER – If freezing, I recommend setting aside a portion of soup to freeze without adding the eggs. Allow the reserved soup to cool, then add it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Chikhirtma will freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  • REHEAT – Warm leftovers on the stovetop over low heat, so the eggs aren’t disturbed.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Where does Chikhirtma originate from?

The origins of chikhirtma are unclear (though most attribute it to the Persian empire). Now, the soup is prepared in kitchens all over Georgia as a light lunch with homemade bread and as a flu remedy; chikhirtma is also well known for being a ‘hangover cure.’

Can I skip the chicken stock and make chikhirtma soup?

If you’re in a hurry and need to cut the cooking time, opt for a store-bought chicken stock (about 2-3 quarts) to flavor the soup. Since you’re skipping the stock-making process, add the cilantro stems, dill stems, garlic, onions, and whole spices to the soup while simmering- so you don’t miss any signature flavors. I suggest putting them in a spice ball to avoid straining them.

Follow the instructions, and skip to the- for the homemade chicken soup section. When you get to step three, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 20-30 minutes to develop the flavor and break down the garlic head.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Make the soup a few days ahead and store it in an air-tight container for up to 2 days. Then, follow my instructions for reheating; this is also a great freezer meal, though I recommend leaving the eggs out until you are ready to prepare the meal if you choose to go this route.

YOU SHOULD ALSO TRY:

A single serving of chikhirtma garnished with red chili flakes, dill, and cilantro.

Chikhirtma (Homemade Chicken Soup)

Tressa Jamil
Cozy up with a piping hot bowl of chikhirtma- our Georgian chicken soup combines a handful of ingredients to create a velvety, smooth and savory soup you'll love.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Georgian
Servings 8 bowls
Calories 348 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Chicken Stock:

  • 2½ – 3 pounds whole chicken, bone-in, and skin on
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems, and ends reserved separately
  • 1 bunch dill, stems, and ends reserved separately
  • 1 garlic head, end removed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • teaspoon allspice, whole
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Georgian Chicken Soup:

  • 1 stick butter, salted
  • 5 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup lemon juice, about 2 lemons
  • black pepper, coarse ground, to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to garnish

Instructions
 

For the Chicken Stock:

  • Tie the stems of the cilantro and dill bundles, and cut off the leaves; reserve ¼ cup of each to garnish the soup.
  • Cut off and discard the top third of a garlic head, leaving the head intact.
  • Add the whole chicken, cilantro stems, dill stems, and garlic head to a dutch oven, along with the remaining broth ingredients. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken is tender, for about 1 hour.
  • Remove the lid and scoop up the garlic head; set it aside. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and shred it, discarding the skin, bones, and cartilage. Keep the legs intact if you prefer, but remove the skin.
  • Use a colander to strain the broth into a mixing bowl. Discard any solids.
  • Squeeze the reserved garlic head into the broth using tongs, and whisk to combine. Set the broth aside.

For the Georgian Chicken Soup:

  • In the dutch oven, add butter, carrots, and onions; set over medium heat and cook until the onions become translucent and soften for about 10-12 minutes.
  • Add flour and stir for 5-7 minutes to build a blonde roux, then deglaze with soy sauce.
  • Add 2 cups of the reserved broth; give it a quick stir, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and lemon juice together. Continue whisking while slowly adding 2 cups of reserved hot broth. Then, remove the dutch oven from heat and whisk in lemon juice and the egg mixture. Stir to combine.
    Note: Do not simmer once the eggs have been added. 
  • Return the chicken along with any accumulated juices to the pan.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro, dill, and red pepper flakes to serve.

Notes

Adapted From:
  • So many of the dinner recipes we make regularly at home come from Milkstreet, including the inspiration for this recipe!
 
Cooking Tips: 
  • Before squeezing the lemons, rub them on the countertop with your palm; this allows more lemon juice to release. 
  • Do not simmer the soup after adding the tempered eggs. Doing so will cook the eggs further rather than temper them in the broth.
 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
 
Web Story:

Nutrition

Serving: 1 BowlCalories: 348kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 20gFat: 25gSodium: 1108mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4g
Keyword chikhirtma, homemade chicken soup
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
Recipe Rating




Bianca

Saturday 16th of July 2022

Felt a little down the past few days and this soup was the perfect dish to get me back up again! So delicious, just pure comfort food!

Tressa Jamil

Saturday 16th of July 2022

Oh, I feel the same way! I am happy it was able to brighten your day!

Fede

Saturday 16th of July 2022

This soup is a proper comfort food, taste delicious and it is easy to make.

Tressa Jamil

Saturday 16th of July 2022

It's our go-to soup for that reason; I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Giangi

Friday 15th of July 2022

I love earthy, rich soups, and your recipe is all of that. I will try it this weekend. Thank you for sharing

Tressa Jamil

Friday 15th of July 2022

It's light, tasty, and still so filling. You'll have to let me know what you think once you've made it!