Mildly spiced desi (Indian) style chicken clear soup is an easy, flavorful soup and a comfort food on cold winter days. It tastes wonderful as is or with some rice and also a great home remedy for cold.
Back home, bone soup with mutton is a very common preparation in most households. Chicken bone soup wasn’t common when growing up and I only started making it after coming to the US. Bone soup with chicken is a simple, easy, 20 minutes recipe that is great to have on a weekly menu.
This is an Indian style soup, hence the soup is prepared using whole garam masala ingredients, onions and ginger garlic paste. Lime juice, tomato or tamarind is used for some tanginess.
We prefer light soups over creamy ones and this soup is often on our menu in Fall & Winter. With some grilled cheese sandwich on the side, it is a wholesome meal. Chicken clear soup or charu also goes will with rice, dal and some vegetable stir fry on the side.
You can pair chicken charu and rice with some pappu (plain dal), methi dal or even kale dal. As for a vegetable stir fry; we usually prefer chikkudu kaya kura, potato or aloo fry, bendi fry or green vankaya (Thai eggplant) masala.
- Chicken Thighs - use skinless chicken thighs with bone. Chicken wings are a good substitute.
- Spices - whole garam masala, pepper powder, chili powder, coriander and salt.
- Other Ingredients - curry leaves, onions, ginger garlic, oil and lime juice.
I prefer pressure cooker to prepare this Indian style chicken soup. Instant Pot and Indian pressure cookers work well for this recipe. Instructions are for cooking in Instant Pot but you can follow same instructions even for stovetop Indian pressure cooker.
Chicken - cut the meat around the thigh bones into bite size pieces (1 & 2 in above collage) and then cut each bone into two or three pieces (#3-4).
Instant Pot Instructions - Heat oil in inner pot of Instant Pot on 'Sauté' mode. Once the pot and oil are hot, roast cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, caraway seeds and curry leaves (#5 in above collage). Then add onions and saute until soft (#6).
Then sauté ginger garlic paste for a minute, until raw ginger smell dissipates. Add all the powders, salt and mix well. Then add chicken and fry until spices coat chicken pieces and, are lightly roasted and brown (#7-8).
Add water until chicken pieces and are immersed in it. Select 'Cancel' on Instant Pot touch pad and select 'pressure cook' or 'manual' and cook for 3 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. In Indian pressure cooker, cook for 3 whistles.
Open the lid, adjust reasoning and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Check the consistency of the soup. If it is too thick, add some water, select 'sauté' setting and bring soup to a boil and cook for few minutes.
Serve as soup or with rice as a side dish. If serving as a soup, squeeze some lime juice just before serving.
Tip: when serving as soup, remove bones from the soup, pull off any meat on the bone and add the meat back to soup. Sometimes I do not trim the thigh before cooking. I cut the thigh into 2 pieces and after the soup is done, I pull off the cooked meat from the bone.
- Chicken - Wings are good substitute for thighs. Discard the tip, trim as much skin as you can. Use both the wingette and the drumette.
- Tomatoes - when serving with rice, you can add some tomatoes and skip lime juice. Add tomatoes along with spices, cook until soft and mushy. Then follow rest of the recipe. You can also add tamarind instead of tomato and lime juice.
- Black Pepper - replace chili powder with black pepper. You can add 6 - 8 pepper corns in tempering and use extra ½ teaspoon (total 1 tsp) of pepper powder or to taste.
- Bottle Gourd or Melon Cucumber - this won't be chicken clear soup but addition of either of these is a good variation to charu, specially when serving with rice. Since these cook really quick, once the soup is done, open the lid, add the veggies, pressure cook for 0-1 minute.
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Desi Style Chicken Soup
- 1 Kitchen Shears or use a knife
- 1 Knife & Cutting Board
- 1 Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot or stovetop)
- 1 Spoon (wooden or steel) or Spatula
- 1.35 lbs Chicken Thighs with bone 1.1 lbs or 500 grams after cleaning and cutting into bite size pieces
- 2 tablespoons Oil
- 5 Cardamoms
- 2 Cloves
- ¼ inch Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Caraway Seeds
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 6 Curry Leaves
- ½ small Onion chopped
- 2 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste
- ¾ teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon Pepper Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- 3 cups Water add more if necessary
- Cilantro to garnish
- Lime juice when serving
- Remove the skin, cut the meat off the bone into bite size pieces and then cut the meatless bone into ½. Keep it aside.
Instant Pot Instructions
- Place inner pot in Instant Pot. Select 'Sauté' mode and once the pot is hot, add oil.
- In hot oil roast cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, caraway seeds and curry leaves.
- Then add onions and saute until soft.
- Sauté ginger garlic paste for a minute, until raw ginger smell dissipates.
- Add all the powders; coriander powder, chili powder, black pepper, turmeric, salt and mix well.
- Then add chicken, mix until spices coat the chicken pieces and are browned.
- Add water until chicken pieces are immersed in it, about 2½ - 3 cups of water.
- Hit, 'Cancel' and select 'pressure cook' or 'manual' setting and cook for 3 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.
- Open the lid, adjust reasoning. Check the consistency of the soup. If it is too thick, add some water, bring it to a boil and cook for a minute or two. If it is too watery, simmer for few minutes on 'Sauté' mode.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot as a soup or as a side dish with rice.
Stovetop Indian Pressure Cooker Instructions
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker. I used a 3 liter pressure cooker but would recommend at least a 4 liter cooker.
- When oil is hot, add cardamoms, cloves , cinnamon, bay leaves, caraway seeds and curry leaves.
- When the spices are lightly roasted in oil, add onions and saute until soft.
- Add Ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.
- Add chili powder, pepper powder, coriander powder, turmeric and salt. Mix well.
- Add chicken and fry until chicken is lightly roasted and brown.
- Add water and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
- Turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
- Open the cooker, adjust the reasoning and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve as a soup or with rice as a side dish. If serving as a soup, squeeze some lime juice.
- Chicken Thighs - when serving as soup, you can cut thighs into two pieces instead of small boneless meat. Once soup is done, remove bones from the soup, pull the meat off the bone and add the meat back to soup.
- Chicken Wings - Wings are good substitute for thighs. Discard the wing tip, trim as much skin as possible and drop the wings in boiling water. Leave them for a minute or two until froth forms on the top. Discard the water, lightly wash the wings. Now wings are ready for soup preparation.
- Tomatoes - use tomatoes instead of lime juice. Add tomatoes along with spices in step 5, cook until soft and mushy. Then follow rest of the instructions. You can also add tamarind instead of tomato and lime juices.
- Variation - this won't be chicken clear soup but addition of either bottle gourd or melon cucumber is a good variation to charu, specially when serving with rice. Since these cook really quick, once the soup is done, open the lid, add the veggies, pressure cook for 0-1 minute. In Indian pressure cooker, cook until pressure builds up without the whistle.
- Black Pepper - replace chili powder with black pepper. You can add 6 - 8 pepper corns in tempering and extra ½ teaspoon (total 1 tsp) of pepper powder.
- Nutrition - Values mentioned are approximate.