French Picnic Chicken Soup with Lemon and Parsnips

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 4 to 6

Hands On Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours and 35 minutes



1 (3-pound) chicken or 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

4 cups water

4 cups chicken stock

4 ribs celery

1 onion, skin on, cut in quarters, plus 1/2 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 shallot, peeled

1 lemon, quartered

2 carrots, diced

1 parsnip, diced

2 tablespoons Beautiful Briny French Picnic sea salt

Juice of 1 lemon

4 scallions, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional Aromatic Additions for Stock

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 star anise

1 cup cremini mushrooms


In a stockpot with a heavy lid, combine the chicken, water and chicken stock over medium heat. Add 2 ribs of the celery, along with teh onion halves, garlic, shallot and lemon quarters. Add any optional aromatic additions you want to use.

Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes, then reduce to low and simmer, covered, until deeply flavorful, 2 hours for a whole chicken or 1 1/2 hours for chicken breasts. Remove from heat and let to cool. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl. Strain the broth, discard solids, and return broth to the pot. If possible, refrigerate overnight and remove fat.

When ready to serve soup, bring the broth up to a simmer and add the carrots, parsley, diced onion and French Picnic sea salt. Dice the remaining 2 ribs of celery and add to pot. Cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are starting to turn tender, about 20 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and pull it into bite-size pieces. Add as much as you like to the soup. If you don’t use it all, reserve for other uses. Simmer the soup with the chicken until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 more minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and scallions, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve. 

About the recipe

This made-from-scratch chicken soup recipe gets a burst of flavor from lemon juice and sweet earthiness from parsnips.

If you want a richer soup, use all chicken broth in the first step. To reduce the amount of fat in the final soup, make the initial broth the day before and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, skim fat and proceed with the recipe.