Canja is a traditional warm, comforting, and hearty Chicken and Rice soup in Brazil. It's mild flavors and hearty texture make it perfect for chilly nights or as a nourishing meal for your family.
Canja is a traditional Portuguese soup that has also become popular in Brazil. Chicken on the bone is cooked with tomato, onion, garlic, and carrots in broth to extract all of the delicious flavor. The chicken is then separated from the bone, shredded, and returned to the soup. Then rice is added to cook until thick and creamy.
The resulting dish is a thick, hearty soup with the tender flavors of chicken and the comforting texture of rice. The vegetables add a light freshness to the soup, while the seasonings can be adjusted to taste. Canja is often served as a main dish and is considered a comfort food that can help soothe the stomach and warm the soul. Think about making double because you will want more the next day 🙂
- Brazilian Origins of this recipe
- Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
- Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
- Tips for this Canja Chicken Soup Recipe
- How to Make Canja
- Variations on Canja Chicken Rice Soup
- Canja Chicken Rice Soup FAQs
- Want More Brazilian Soups or Stews?
- Canja ~ Brazilian Chicken Soup with Rice
Brazilian Origins of this recipe
As mentioned, Canja, or Canja de Galinha, is a very traditional chicken soup that originated in Portugal, similar to Caldo Verde. It is very popular here in Brazilian cuisine as well and often appears during the cooler months of Winter from June through September. It's also a simple dish that can be made ahead and enjoyed by large families or smaller ones for days.
Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
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- Skinless Chicken breasts and chicken thighs, Bone-in - I used both chicken breasts and thighs, but you can choose one. You can also use the whole chicken broken down to fit into the pot. Bone-in is important because you can extract so much flavor from the bones vs. just the meat.
- Olive Oil - Olive Oil is for searing the chicken. You can substitute with vegetable oil or another neutral oil that you have or use butter.
- Yellow onion – I used yellow onion, but you can use white onion, red onion, shallots, or even scallions.
- Fresh Carrot - I peeled medium to large carrot for this recipe. You could use frozen carrots added straight from the freezer when you add the rice, do not thaw first or add them earlier or they can get mushy.
- Fresh Tomatoes - I used vine tomatoes, but plum tomatoes or beefsteak are both fine. You can substitute in a can of strained diced tomatoes.
- Fresh Italian Parsley - If you don't have fresh parsley, you can also use fresh cilantro or other fresh herbs that you love.
- Garlic cloves - Fresh is best. You can buy pre-minced garlic or substitute dried garlic flakes or garlic powder.
- Chicken Bouillon – This is the easiest so you just have to add water. You can also use chicken base or substitute with chicken broth or chicken stock, vegetable broth or stock, or Beef broth or stock.
- Bay leaf - I used a dry bay leaf which brings more delicious herby flavor. You can use fresh. If you don't have bay leaves, you can leave it out.
- Uncooked White Long Grain Rice – Pretty much any white rice will work, so you can substitute with Basmati rice, short grain rice, or brown rice.
See recipe card for quantities.
Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
For this recipe, I used a 10 inch dutch oven because it has a thick and wide bottom that's great for soups. Any large dutch oven, soup pot, or large pot will work.
For mincing garlic, I use a Garlic Press.
Tips for this Canja Chicken Soup Recipe
My biggest tip is to use bone-in but skinless chicken. If you use the skin, you will have a great deal of fat that in the soup.
How to Make Canja
Prep the veggies before getting started. Peel and dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the cilantro.
Preheat a large dutch oven or soup pot over high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Add the oil and the chicken to the pot to brown on one sidefor a couple of minutes, then flip to brown the other side.
Next add the diced onions and the diced carrots
Then add the chopped tomato, minced garlic, half of the fresh chopped parsley, and the bouillon cubes.
Finally add the water and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer with the cover partially on for 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot and separate the chicken from the bones, shredding it into bite-size pieces.
Add the shredded chicken and the rice to the pot along with 2 more cups of water. Bring back to a gentle boil for 20 minutes.
Variations on Canja Chicken Rice Soup
As you can imagine, there are so many ways to customize or change up this Canja recipe. Here are just a few idea to inspire you!
- Vegetarian/Vegan Canja: You can make a vegetarian or vegan version of Canja by substituting the chicken with plant-based protein sources like tofu, tempeh, or legumes such as chickpeas or lentils. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- Canja with Different Grains: While rice is the traditional grain used in Canja, you can experiment with other grains like quinoa, barley, or even pasta.
- Spicy Canja: If you prefer a bit of heat in your soup, you can add some chopped chili peppers, hot sauce, or a pinch of cayenne pepper to the recipe.
- Herbed Canja: Fresh or dried herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme, or rosemary can add extra flavor to the soup.
- Canja with Vegetables: You can add a variety of vegetables to Canja, such as bell peppers, peas, corn, spinach, or kale, to make it more nutritious and colorful.
- Creamy Canja: For a creamier texture, you can add a splash of coconut milk or cream to the soup.
- Canja with Seafood: You can replace the chicken with seafood like shrimp, clams, or white fish for a different flavor profile.
- Canja with Sausage: For a heartier version, you can add some sliced sausage or chorizo to the soup.
Canja Chicken Rice Soup FAQs
Is this Canja Soup Gluten Free?
This Chicken and Rice Recipe is gluten free. Always check food ingredient labels to ensure that they are gluten free.
How long with this Canja Chicken soup last?
Once cooked, this soup can be stored in a sealed, airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can reheat it on the stove in a pot on medium heat. Or reheat it in the microwave in a microwave safe container.
Can I freeze this Canja Chicken and Rice Soup?
This Canja Recipe can be made entirely ahead, portioned out as desired, and then frozen. I like to freeze this soup in freezer bags laying flat in a sheet pan. Once frozen, I can stack the bags like books for easy access in the freezer. You can also use an airtight freezer safe container. This soup will last for up to 6 months in the freezer.
To reheat the soup, you can thaw it in the fridge overnight and then heat it on medium heat in a pot on the stove. You can also reheat it from the frozen state.
Want More Brazilian Soups or Stews?
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Canja ~ Brazilian Chicken Soup with Rice
- 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
- 2 pounds Chicken Breasts and thighs with bones
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1 cup Carrots Diced
- 1 medium Onion
- 4 tomatoes chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup chopped Parsley
- 3 quarts of water
- 3 Chicken bouillon cubes or 3 teaspoons chicken base
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Prep the veggies. Peel and dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the cilantro.
- Preheat a large dutch oven or soup pot over high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the oil and the chicken to the pot to brown on one side, then flip to brown the other side.
- Add the onion, carrots, tomato, garlic, half of the parsley, water, and bouillon cubes. Stir to combine, add the bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Once boiling (takes about 10 minutes), partially cover, leaving a crack for steam to escape and simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and separate the chicken from the bones, shredding it into bite-size pieces.
- Add the shredded chicken and the rice to the pot along with 2 more cups of water. Bring back to a simmer for 20 minutes.