Delicious Canja Recipe to Satisfy Your Soul

If you’re looking for the ultimate comfort food, look no further than Canja de Galinha, a thick and rich chicken and rice soup made famous in the Cape Verde islands. This delicious chicken soup is the ultimate Cape Verdean comfort food, with simple seasonings that combine to create an irresistible flavor profile.

But Canja de Galinha is much more than just a soup. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “chicken rice soup” of Cape Verdean cuisine, and for good reason. Canja is a staple in homes across the Cape Verde islands, and is served at special occasions like New Year’s celebrations or birthday parties.

Made with a whole chicken, rice, vegetables, and simple seasonings, Canja de Galinha epitomizes home-cooked comfort food. The soup is thick and rich, with a hearty flavor that will satisfy even the biggest appetites. Best of all? It’s incredibly easy to make!

Whether you’re a Cape Verdean looking to celebrate your culture with authentic cuisine or simply seeking a tasty new dinner recipe to add to your repertoire, Canja de Galinha is definitely worth adding to your list of go-to meals. So let’s get started with this delicious chicken soup recipe inspired by one of the most beloved regions in African cuisine – Cape Verde!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Canja (Cape Verde Islands)  Rich Chicken & Rice Soup
Canja (Cape Verde Islands) Rich Chicken & Rice Soup

If you’re looking for a hearty and comforting soup that boasts both flavor and nutrition, then this Canja recipe from the Cape Verde Islands is a must-try. This thick and rich chicken and rice soup is a staple in Cape Verdean cuisine and is often referred to as the ultimate comfort food.

What sets this recipe apart from other chicken rice soups is its simple seasonings and the addition of vegetables. Made with just a few key ingredients such as whole chicken, onions, water, chicken bouillon cubes, and rice, this recipe remains true to its Cape Verdean roots while catering to contemporary tastes.

The canja de galinha rice soup offers a rich base made with two whole Cape Verdean chickens cut into bite-sized pieces. With the addition of vegetable oil to create a silky texture, it offers an authentic depth of flavor that gives the soup its character. The vegetables are simple but fundamental, carrots and parsley to help balance the taste profile of this delicious chicken soup.

But what makes this meal truly special is its ability to bring people together. As a dish that is historically served during times of celebration such as weddings or holidays like New Year’s Eve, this versatile soup can be adapted to any occasion or serving size.

Whether you’re enjoying a bowl of Canja on a chilly day or sharing it with friends and family at celebrations and gatherings, there’s no doubt that it will become one of your go-to comfort foods. So why not try out this rich and delicious chicken soup recipe made by Cape Verdeans for centuries?

Ingredient List

 A comforting hug in a bowl
A comforting hug in a bowl

Below is a list of ingredients that you will need to make a hearty and flavorful Canja de Galinha (Cape Verdean Chicken and Rice Soup). Don’t worry, they are all simple and easy-to-find items that you probably already have in your pantry or can find at your local grocery store.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cups of long-grain rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 cups of water

The chicken is the star of this soup, so make sure to use a good quality one. You can also use pre-cut chicken pieces if you prefer. The garlic, ginger, and onions add depth and flavor to the soup, while the chicken bouillon cubes add an umami taste that enhances the taste of the chicken. The vegetable oil helps brown the chicken and the onions, creating a richer flavor. And of course, long-grain rice is essential to achieve the thick texture of this soup.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect soup for chilly evenings
The perfect soup for chilly evenings

Step 1: Cook the chicken

In a large pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes and stir until they dissolve. Add 1 whole chicken into the pot and let it cook for 25-30 minutes until fully cooked. Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside to cool.

Step 2: Shred the chicken

Once the chicken has cooled, shred it into small pieces with your hands or a fork. Set it aside.

Step 3: Sauté the onions

In the same pot you used to cook the chicken, add 2 diced onions and sauté them in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until they are translucent but not browned.

Step 4: Add rice and vegetables

Add 2 cups of white rice and sauté with onions for about 2 minutes. Then, add in any diced vegetables of your choice such as carrots or celery. This will give your soup more flavor and texture.

Step 5: Add water and seasonings

Pour in 8 cups of water into the pot with the rice and vegetables. Crush another 2 chicken bouillon cubes and stir them into the mixture. Add any other simple seasonings that you like such as salt, pepper or garlic powder.

Step 6: Boil and Simmer

Bring everything to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for about 15-18 minutes until rice is fully cooked.

Step 7: Add shredded chicken

Once rice is cooked, add shredded chicken to the pot, stir everything together, and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes on medium heat.

Congratulations, you made a delicious Canja Chicken Rice Soup! Time to serve!

(5) Substitutions and Variations

Substitutions and Variations

 Get ready to warm your soul with this rich soup
Get ready to warm your soul with this rich soup

When it comes to making Canja, there are many substitutions and variations you can use depending on your preference and availability of ingredients. Here are a few ideas to help you create a unique twist for this Cape Verdean comfort food.

1. Substitute chicken with turkey – Want to make the recipe even healthier? Try cooking with turkey instead of traditional chicken. This option works well, especially during the holiday season when leftover turkey is usually abundant in most homes.

2. Use rice noodles instead of rice – Looking for a different texture? Swap out the rice for rice noodles for a more Asian-inspired version of Canja, complete with its own unique flair.

3. Add vegetables – While the classic recipe relies on chicken, rice and simple seasonings, you can boost the nutritional value by adding fresh or frozen vegetables like green beans or carrot while keeping things simple.

4. Make it spicy – For those who love an extra kick of flavor, add some chili pepper or paprika or curry to your dish and transform your soup into a piping hot bowl of fiesta!

5. Use quinoa instead of rice – Quinoa is gluten-free and packed with healthy proteins too! This nutrient-rich grain is also easier to digest than rice and adds a different kind of texture to the soup.

So go ahead and experiment with these substitutions and variations that will ultimately make this Canja ultimate comfort food recipe truly unique!

Serving and Pairing

 The ultimate comfort food with a twist
The ultimate comfort food with a twist

Canja de galinha, or Cape Verdean chicken rice soup, is a comforting and hearty dish that can be served as a main course or as a starter. Its thick and rich consistency makes it perfect for colder days or for celebrating special occasions. This ultimate comfort food is the pride of Cape Verdean cuisine.

To serve, ladle out the hot soup into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for added freshness and flavor. The soup pairs perfectly with Cape Verdean bread, which is similar to cornbread but with a denser texture. You can also pair it with Portuguese bread or crusty sourdough to soak up all the delicious broth.

For a complete meal, you can serve Canja de galinha with a side of grilled vegetables or roasted root vegetables. The soup can be easily adapted to accommodate different diet preferences by swapping out the chicken for tofu, seitan or even lentils.

As for beverages, a light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio complements the rich flavors of the soup without overpowering them. For non-alcoholic options, try freshly squeezed orange juice, iced tea or ginger beer.

Canja de galinha is perfect for family dinners, cozy weekend meals or holiday gatherings like Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Enjoy this beloved Cape Verdean comfort food recipe with your loved ones and transport yourself to the beautiful islands of Cape Verde!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A hearty soup that will remind you of home
A hearty soup that will remind you of home

Canja is a great dish to make in advance or store for later use. You can make this soup ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, you can simply place it on the stove and heat it up slowly until hot.

Another great option is freezing the Canja soup in portions for future use. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. To reheat, you can simply thaw and heat it up in a pot over low heat until hot.

When making the soup ahead of time, keep the rice separate from the soup and add it when ready to serve. This will help maintain the texture and consistency of the rice.

It is important to note that when reheating the soup, you might need to add some water or chicken broth as the soup may become thicker as it cools down. Additionally, if you are adding more vegetables or chicken to the reheated soup, remember to adjust your seasonings accordingly.

Overall, Canja is a versatile soup that can be enjoyed fresh or reheated. With proper storage and reheating techniques, you can enjoy this delicious Cape Verdean comfort food at any time.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The perfect balance of flavors and textures
The perfect balance of flavors and textures

One of the keys to making a delicious Canja de Galinha (Cape Verdean Chicken Rice Soup) is allowing enough time for the flavors to meld together. Here are some tips to make sure you achieve the perfect results.

First, I highly recommend using a whole chicken. The bones add depth and richness to the broth, and you can always use leftover meat for other dishes.

Additionally, cut your chicken into small pieces, so they cook evenly and quickly. Use vegetable oil instead of olive oil as it has a higher smoke point and will not burn.

When it comes to seasoning your soup, keep it simple. A Cape Verdean chicken rice soup relies on its few basic ingredients to create its signature flavor. Instead of adding lots of spices, let the natural flavors of the ingredients shine through.

Be generous with the amount of onions you add to your soup! Onions have a naturally sweet flavor that will help balance the savory broth.

Finally, don’t be afraid to adjust the soup’s consistency by adding more water or chicken broth if needed. This Cape Verdean comfort food should have a thick, rich consistency, but still be easy to eat.

By following these tips, you will create a rich and delicious chicken soup that will transport your taste buds straight to Cape Verdean cuisine!

Bottom Line

The Canja de Galinha rice soup is the ultimate Cape Verdean comfort food. This simple yet flavourful soup has become a staple in many households in Cape Verde and is perfect for celebrating special occasions like New Year’s Day. The rich and delicious chicken soup made with rice and vegetables is sure to warm your soul.

With this recipe, you can enjoy a taste of Cape Verdean cuisine from the comfort of your own home. The simple seasonings and ingredients make it an easy-to-follow recipe for both beginner and experienced cooks. And with the substitutions and variations options, you can add your own personal touch to the dish.

The Canja de Galinha recipe is not only popular in Cape Verde but also across the region, making it a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many countries like Brazil and Portugal. It is no surprise that Canja de Galinha rice soup has become a favourite stew in various countries around the world.

So why not give this Cape Verdean Chicken Rice Soup recipe a try? You won’t regret it! Serve it as a comfort food for dinner or use it to celebrate special occasions surrounded by loved ones. With its thick rich consistency, you’ll definitely want to come back for more. Experience the taste of Cape Verdean food with this Canja de Galinha soup recipe today!

Canja (Cape Verde Islands) Rich Chicken & Rice Soup

Canja (Cape Verde Islands) Rich Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe

This very thick, rich soup is made to celebrate special occasions, such as New Year's eve and special family events. This recipe was adapted from the Smithsonian Institution's, 1995 Festival of American Folklife Cookbook. Recipes for the book were contributed by American Cape Verdeans who are active in preserving their cultural heritage. The Cape Verde Islands are located about 300 miles west of Senegal. Many Cape Verdeans migrated to the Atlantic coast of the U.S., many to Rhode island.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine African
Calories 570.8 kcal


  • 1/2 whole chicken, cut up
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup short-grain white rice
  • vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 3 cups water


  • Saute onions in oil. Next add chicken pieces, boullion cubes and saute a few minutes more.
  • Add 3 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer 30 to 35 minutes, until rice is cooked. Add water to adjust to desired consistency.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 452gCalories: 570.8kcalCarbohydrates: 45.7gProtein: 32.9gFat: 27.2gSaturated Fat: 7.8gCholesterol: 122.3mgSodium: 676.9mgFiber: 2.2gSugar: 2.9g
Keyword < 60 Mins, African, Beginner Cook, Chicken, Easy, Meat, One-Dish Meal, Poultry, Rice, Short-Grain Rice, Stove Top, Whole Chicken
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