Portuguese Chicken Soup (Canja)


This Portuguese Chicken Soup is called Canja. It has a flavorful broth from boiling the chicken, and pasta stars which make it a fall comfort food staple.

With the weather getting cooler and the air getting crisper, I am in the mood for soup.  I learned how to make this Portuguese chicken soup, canja, from Julian's mom.  It is a favorite in our family when the air gets colder, and is also a go-to comfort meal when anyone is feeling under the weather.

How to Make the Best Canja

There are a few things you need to consider in order to make the best canja:

  • Chicken: you want to be sure to use a cut of chicken that has the bone-in and skin-on.  This is because you will be boiling the chicken to form the broth and the skin and bones will help to add a lot of flavor to the soup!  Don't worry, we will be removing the skin and later in the cooking process.
  • Pasta: I recommend that you use a small pasta that was meant for soups.  My family prefers to use the star pasta - estrelinha in Portuguese.  Other pasta types that I would recommend you to use if you can't find the starts are orzo or ancini di pepe.  
  • Broth: the base of your broth is the water, garlic, olive oil, and chicken.  While you don't want to overcook the chicken, you also want to make sure it is has enough time to add its flavor to the broth.  Also, once you add the pasta, you need to let it cook until the pasta is on the softer side.  You want to do this because it will help the broth become a slightly thicker texture.

If you want to sneak more vegetables into this dish, I recommend adding some sliced carrots.  The soup is flavorful enough on its own so I don't think you need to add anything.


Portuguese Chicken Soup (Canja)

This is the perfect comfort dish for when the weather gets cooler, or when you have the sniffles!

Prep Time:
Cooking Time:


  • 12 cups of water, or approximately 2/3 of a pot
  • 3/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, whole
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone in skin on (can also use chicken legs)
  • 3/4 cup small pasta (I use star-shaped pasta)


  1. Season chicken with cracked salt and pepper.
  2. Add water, salt, olive oil, and garlic to the water and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  3. Add chicken thighs and boil until cooked through, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken and remove skin and bones.  Shred chicken into small pieces.  Add pasta to water while shredding chicken and turn to low.
  5. Cook pasta until soft, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Add shredded chicken back to the pot and cook on low for a few more minutes.
  7. Remove garlic from soup and serve.

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