Chicken Soup with Ground Chicken Meatballs

Try Chuck Hughes' comforting chicken meatball soup packed with great flavor.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 5 hr
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 4 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
  • Nutrition Info
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Chicken Stock: 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Bones from 1 whole chicken

2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

1 leek, chopped

1 clove garlic, halved

1/2 cup fresh dill

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon peppercorns

24 cups water

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chicken Meatballs:

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup milk

1 pound ground chicken, or 4 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

1 red onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon chile flakes

Freshly ground pepper


2 carrots, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 leek, finely chopped

Vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 cups watercress

4 blackened chicken wings, for garnish (from Blackened Chicken Salad, recipe follows)

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, for garnish

Blackened Chicken:

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon smoked sea salt

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, ground

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 chicken drumsticks

4 chicken wings

4 chicken thighs, deboned

Vegetable oil

French Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup canned tomato soup, undiluted

1/4 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Salt and pepper


1 head romaine lettuce

1 red onion, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup radishes, julienned

1/4 cup fresh flat parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil


  1. For the chicken stock: In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken bones, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes to brown. Add the vegetables to the stockpot along with the herbs and peppercorns. Stir to mix, add the water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 4 to 6 hours. The stock will have reduced by half. Strain and skim the fat. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Reserve.
  2. For the chicken meatballs: Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk. In a food processor, combine the ground chicken, or chicken breasts if using, the red onion and garlic. Blend for 2 minutes. Add the dill, olive oil, salt, chile flakes and breadcrumb mixture. Spinkle with freshly ground pepper.
  3. Using 1 teaspoon of the ground chicken mixture, form small meatballs. Reserve on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to cook in the soup.
  4. For the soup: In a medium stockpot, cook the vegetables in oil for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 8 cups stock and the chicken meatballs. Let simmer until the meatballs are cooked, about 15 minutes. When ready to serve, divide the watercress in the bowls and add a ladle of chicken soup. Garnish with the blackened chicken wings and fresh dill.


  1. For the blackened chicken: Combine all the spices with the garlic and oil in a bowl. Evenly rub the chicken pieces with the spice mixture. Place in a large re-sealable plastic bag or a bowl covered in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight for a more intense flavor.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a cast-iron skillet heat over high heat, add enough vegetable oil to coat the whole bottom of the pan. The pan will be ready when it starts to gently smoke. First place the chicken drumsticks in the skillet (they take the longest to cook) and blacken all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken pieces and continue in the same manner for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the skillet in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside and keep warm. 
  4. For the French vinaigrette: Add the tomato soup, ketchup, vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, mustard seeds, shallot, garlic and lemon juice to a blender and puree all the ingredients together. Slowly add the oil until it emulsifies and becomes thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper and blend again. (Add a little bit of water if the vinaigrette is too thick.) Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. The vinaigrette can be made ahead and will be good for up to 1 week.
  5. For the salad: In a bowl, mix together the romaine lettuce with the red onions, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken thighs from the skillet, slice lengthwise and toss into the salad. Mix well and set aside.
  6. In another bowl, mix together the radishes, herbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve: Dress the plates with the romaine and chicken thigh salad mix. Top each plate with a blackened chicken drumstick and garnish with the radish salad. Drizzle with the French vinaigrette and serve.

Cook’s Note

Unused stock can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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